Here's something to discuss around your Thanksgiving table. A few months ago, Gail Collins of the New York Times wrote a column about the fractious political conditions in Washington D.C., plagued with scandals and stagnation. Why not pick something benign for the government to do, she suggested, that it can agree on and then move forward from that modest success? Like declaring a national rock, she said. "Committees could hold hearings about the relative merits of slate and granite. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would threaten to filibuster unless his colleagues considered coal. But, in the end, I believe everybody would rally around a grand compromise for marble. And the country would feel much, much better."
Commenters had fun with that idea, but of course they disagreed about marble. Their alternatives included Manhattan schist, "porous, leak-prone" limestone, and concrete. (Concrete? why not concretions?)
The whole idea didn't seem so clear cut to me. David Williams, the author of Stories in Stone, thought the same. In his blog post "Official National Rock," he made plausible arguments for conglomerate, slate, gneiss and even rock salt. His commenters mentioned basalt, which I also think worthy.
But come on, people, granite is the obvious choice. Granite is as strong as America aspires to be. Not only that, granite is found all 13 of the original colonies and in most of the other states. (Not in Florida, I admit, but then its state gemstone doesn't occur there either.) When Whitman wrote about the robustness of his soul he said, "My foothold is tenoned and morticed in granite, and I know the amplitude of time." You don't think he'd have picked sandstone, do you? And here's another thing, granite isn't trademarkedit's such a democratic rock, so generously defined, that stone dealers can market almost any kind of hard stone as commercial granite. What could be more American? I ask you anyway.
All-American GRANITE Andrew Alden photo