By Andrew McKenna Ring in the valiant man and free, The larger heart, the kindlier hand; Ring out the darkness of the land, Ring in the Christ that is to be. Alfred, Lord Tennyson Advent, where we now find ourselves in the Christian calendar, in part honours the hard journeys we experience in our lives. They may be a metaphysical journey to God, or a more physical journey we make on the surface of the earth. All journeys can be made easier by cultivating reverence, forgiveness, joy and gratitude - qualities we could no doubt work on year-round. I always remember a tough journey I made on the back of a truck in the desert in Central Australia, with the hard ground whizzing by. A small Aboriginal boy suddenly called for our driver to stop, and when he did, the boy jumped out and scrambled back over the ground. He picked up a piece of rock, leapt back into the truck and handed it to me. Imprinted on one side was the clear impression of a fossil trilobite. How that little boy spotted a fossil as the truck went past it is beyond me, but it perhaps suggests that some of us are more in tune with our world than others. With Christmas approaching, at Dragonfly Toys we thought it was an ideal time to get back to basics. And dirt is about as close as we could get to basics. Mind you this post is not so much about dirt as minerals. You can help your budding geologists at home discover the amazing qualities and features of minerals of our world and that make them essential in everyday life with our wonderful Crystals and Minerals Kits. The kits can help cultivate in your kids a curiosity about the world as they explore what influences the shape and growth of crystals. They can examine the special properties of carbon as they build models of graphite and diamond. The kits help your children learn how to organise and catalogue your own collection of rocks and minerals beginning with the samples of pyrite and amethyst included in this kit. But also, let your kids play with rocks, shift them to make dams and walls, and explore every nook and cranny on a stone looking for their own trilobites. The kits are suitable for kids eight and over. So this first week of Advent traditionally honours the mineral kingdom, the stones, earth, rocks, a variety of landscapes, the essential minerals and elements that make up our land and are, of course, part of our bodies. Advent is the four-week period of preparation before Christmas. The word comes from Latin, "to come to". In the Northern Hemisphere they are coming to the light of Christ, and in the Southern Hemisphere we are also literally coming to the physical light of summer. It's that light that we could apply to our world year-round, "ringing out" the darkness, cultivating the kindlier hand, examining our world and holding it in reverence. I keep that fossil trilobite on my bookcase now, reminding me of a people who hold their world in reverence, from the smallest piece of rock to the biggest landscape.