Random box of rocks defies explanation

Newspapers are, by their very nature, responsible for explaining day-to-day life in these United States, whether the phenomenon in question has to do with runaway brides in Georgia or runaway governors in California.

(Yes, there is correlation between the two. We just haven’t figured out exactly what it is yet…).

On any given day, newspaper people ask tough questions, crunch numbers (not one of our strong points), and demand explanations from people who’d rather not explain anything without first receiving a grand jury subpoena.

Shady politicos? We eat ’em up. Questionable business practices? We’re all over them. Scandalous celebrity antics? You read it here first – and probably second, third, fourth and fifth, too.

When it comes to solving mysteries in our own back yards, however, we members of the Fourth Estate are sometimes baffled.

Take, for example, the Curious Case of the Box of Rocks.

Events began to unfold two weeks ago when one of our editors woozily returned from a vacation in the Sierra and noticed a medium-sized cardboard box filled with rocks on the sidewalk in front of the newspaper office.”Hmmmmmmm, box of rocks…” he observed.

That was about as far as our initial inquiry went. It had been a long weekend and the editor felt no immediate threat emanating from the stationary box of grayish stones.”

On the sidewalk…” he added before trundling into the newsroom and once again assuming command of his office cubicle.

Although the editor later admitted to some generalized curiosity about the box, his interest faded as morning slipped away.

And the box of rocks, being a box of rocks, simply sat there.

But as the days passed, the questions mounted. As trained observers, we noted the location – and persistence – of the 13-by-11-by-12 cardboard box and its half-dozen quite unremarkable gray rocks.

Answers, however, were remarkably scarce.

“Box of rocks is still out there. Been there about a week,” one observer observed observantly.

“Looks like that box of rocks is still out on the sidewalk. Wonder why…” pointed out another sharp-eyed staff writer.

“Yup,” explained a third.

Seven days went by and the box remained. Some staffers became rather apprehensive about the puzzling package.

“Wonder what that box of rocks is still doing out there. Those rocks aren’t from around here. They’re from somewhere else. I know the rocks around here and those aren’t natural,” another editor remarked with ill-concealed dread.

“They’re quiet – too quiet.”

Hard to believe, but it became clear after a week of speculation that one of the most efficient news gathering organizations in Solano County had been thoroughly stumped by an itinerant box of rocks.

And then, just as mysteriously as it had arrived, our puzzling parcel disappeared. One minute it was there, the next minute – poof! Curiouser and curiouser…

Needless to say, we’ve put our best minds to work on the puzzle and it won’t be long before we have all the answers. In fact, I’m fairly certain that I’ve already identified the mastermind behind the mystery box.

Now, if I can just get Arnold Schwarzenegger to admit it…

Originally published June 12, 2005