If ever there was a patron saint of stones in Marion County, it would be Steve Hett.
There is a hardly a place without a rock in sight on his property.
Loose stones surround his mailbox. Intriguing but haphazard rock groupings line his driveway.
He has integrated stones into paths, walls, patios, and abundant displays around his property. There are piles from different fields tucked away in nooks and crannies, behind trees, on cars, and ringed around the bases of many trees.
He adores rocks, especially strange stones, the ones that look like other things.
“When you’ve looked at rocks as long as I have you’re bound to see something interesting,” Hett said. “It takes a little imagination, but once you see something in a rock you can’t un-see it. You end up seeing it more and more.”
He said multiple variables affect what a rock can look like, including time of day and the way light shines off a stone’s surface during sunset or sunrise, the angle at which a rock is examined, and whether it is wet or not.
“Maybe my head is full of rocks but it keeps me busy,” he said. “Every time I see something strange I pick it up. I’ve always picked up rocks, even back when I knew nothing about them.”
Now 67, Hett has been collecting rocks for most of his adult life. He said his dad used to collect rocks, too. Hett worked some of his father’s favorite stones — rocks his dad thought were petrified wood — into the walls of home.
He has amassed a collection that is beyond tally. He has hauled rocks back to his home from all over the county as well as the state.
“I’ve handled tons,” he said. “Tons and tons, my truck always has rocks on it.”
At one point along the drive, one can see a rock that from the old grade school in Florence Hett said he used to play on as a child. He has old sidewalk stones from Florence, too.
At another point Hett decorated a tree with various-sized rocks hanging from cords. He calls it his “Rock Tree.”
All the holes in the rocks hanging from it were natural. He does not like to break, drill, or alter any of his rocks in any way because he appreciates each rock’s natural form.
Rocks he thinks look like heads rest near a bush along his drive. Most of the rock heads have markings that resemble mouths and each has at least one if not two hole-eyes that gaze out into the woods surrounding his house.
Inside one of his shops, a large rock from the Burns area serves as a hearthstone. Nearby, he keeps rocks that may have been primitive tools and utensils, and groupings of what he calls “Funny Rocks.”
He has one funny rock that he said looks like a “Flintstone Hamburger.” He also has a grilled cheese rock sandwich. Others rocks have obscure or unique geometric shapes. One looks like a lizard, and many suggest the appearance of human appendages.
Hett does not claim to be an archeologist or a geologist, but he studies history by watching TV shows, reading books, and searching online. He uses a video magnifying apparatus to inspect stones in detail.
He has developed theories about certain rocks that have markings. He does not think it is handwriting, but he thinks the markings could hold some significance.
“I believe some of my rocks might be from the oldest Indians in the area or the ‘mound builders,’” Hett said, “but I can’t prove it. I’ve just seen shapes and markings in different formations that are hard to explain.”
Hett plans to keep digging and looking for unique rocks. Even if what he finds has little or no archeological significance, he still has fun doing it.
“My collection is something that just kept growing,” Hett said. “It goes on and on. Every rock has a little discovery on it.”