Chat with Deb—Tree Roots and Clay Pots

“I told the elders and I’m telling you, this clay pot thing is STUPID!”

Jack Herlocker
2 min readJun 2


Wandering around our local woods—okay, purposefully engaging in immersion in a natural setting without directional guidance, whatever—we see lots of things. Pretty rocks, flowers, places where somebody chainsawed fallen trees when they fell over the trail, places where nobody chainsawed fallen trees and hikers have had to establish bypasses… We pass several trees that have fallen over, presumably in storms. The roots show age and degrees of decay, so some of them toppled years ago.

Old, decaying toppled tree… with clay that won’t wash away. (all photos by author)

ME: Okay, so some of these trees, they must have fallen over years ago, right? We’ve had storms during and since, heavy rains, freeze/thaw cycles, and yet there’s still clay on the roots. (taps on the clay with my hiking stick — might as well be tapping on rock) Clay that’s baked on the roots. So somebody must have said to themselves at some point—

DEB: Hey, there’s a lot of this stuff, we can make our own rocks!

ME: Only in shapes! So, like, if we make a shape like hands holding water, we could make something that could hold water! Only bigger!

DEB: But?

ME: But! Somebody asks, what’s wrong with water skins? Haven’t we always used water skins? They’re light! They’re flexible!

DEB: They split sometimes.

ME: Not when properly cured! Okay, sometimes, whatever. But! Someone points out these new clay water things can be made in many sizes, and they may be heavier, but we can add, um, holder things, um, well you use your hands so we’ll call them “handles” for now until we think of a better name, and the skin-makers can become clay water-holder-makers! It’ll be great.

DEB: And you’re thinking this is how it happened?

ME: Probably the first few times that somebody had the idea they got pushed in front of a mammoth in the next hunt. But eventually the clay thing must have caught on.

We just make up stories as we go along. We seldom worry about supporting facts.

Pic #1: Deb with her hiking pole (needed for trails) and visor (not needed for woods); pic #2: rocky uphill path leading to the top of the ridge. The park is on top of the ridge covered with rocks and is called (any guesses?) “Rocky Ridge Park” because why not?

Chats with Deb

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Jack Herlocker

Husband & retiree. Developer, tech writer, & IT geek. I fill what’s empty, empty what’s full, and scratch where it itches. Occasionally do weird & goofy things.