Rock-Paper-Scissors

Rocks. They sit here so patiently on my writing table. I don’t know where it all began, but by now it is a collection from various places I have been and loved (where I have left a part of me). A rock is a piece of the place, or the experience, that I can bring home with me. And the memory contained in each one speaks volumes.

One rock I picked up in Argentina. We were leaving a winery in Mendoza and stones such as this were shimmering on either side of the road, so I asked the driver to please pull over. One of them is with me now.

Another rock is from a spa where, in the course of a Native American Hot Rock Treatment, I learned that rocks are alive, and wise, having been here longer than anything else on earth. I slipped one into my robe when the massage therapist went out of the room. That treatment had given me an idea for a scene in the novel I was working on, and it would help to write it if I could hold the stone. Those hot rocks gave me the scene.

During a visit to The Mount, Edith Wharton’s estate in Lenox, Massachusetts, I picked up two lovely rocks that today sit one upon the other, stacked like a cairn, on my writing table. I imagine that they were there in her day too, when she strolled the gardens before slipping back into her writing room. I also like to think that some of Ms. Wharton’s magic might rub off.

In the summer I pick up rocks in The San Juan Islands the way I used to search for shells on other shores. In the Pacific Northwest it is all about rocks and logs. Which brings me to paper….

I am a paper person and can’t remember ever being without it in one form or another, be it sketchbook, notebook, journal, index cards, or a roll of plain white shelf paper. One of the most creative things my mother did was supply us with shelf paper when we were young, which we would roll out before us on the rec room floor. Lying on our stomachs, propped up on elbows, our crayons spread across the linoleum, we drew like this for hours.  Shelf paper had it all over coloring books. No one had to stay between the lines because there were no lines. And we drew as we thought, not in frames, but in streams of consciousness, as in dreams and movies.

Such are my earliest paper memories. So it came as a shock of late when, after being outfitted for hearing aids, my biggest complaint, the noise most annoying, was the sound of paper! What I had always known as silent and contemplative turned into crackling thunder when papers were rustled or turned. I made an appointment and had the volume turned down. Accustomed to my quiet time, I had grown quite fond of it, especially when writing. Just ask the rocks.

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4 Comments

Filed under paper, rocks

4 responses to “Rock-Paper-Scissors

  1. sophiewitman

    I know the secret life of rocks. Not that I know the secret, but that I know they have one. Great post, Kim.

    • Paul Mayer

      I have had the frustration of waiting while just the right rock is selected… what do you think about this one? no maybe this one? no, it will never do…. We do have a wonderful collection of memories though…

  2. I am also of the rock collectors’s club, have collected rocks and stones from every place I have ever lived, to the point of, when leaving the northwest for the midwest, I decided to return some of my beauties to the ocean from whence they came, in a kind of reverse ritual of thanks.
    One small question: rocks, paper… but scissors? certainly another love of mine, along with pens and pencils….. thanks for the post! SB

  3. Alexander Finn

    Kim,

    You’ve a hit topic that is common to our culture that is rarely discussed in critical circles. I can hear the sarcasm now, “Yeah, they’re rocks!” “Dumb as a rock!” and so forth. So, I ask myself, is this something that I should avoid, probably yes, unless it can be done well. Good writers can take the most mundane subjects or behaviors and reveal something that will make readers, laugh, cry, break windows…. no, I meant think deeply, and, as you have chosen, remember. It’s a good one and you did it well. It would might be worth a subtle reference or expantion at another time.

    Many of us are rock collectors, closet rock collectors, sort of. It’s not something we are embarrassed about necessaarily, but it is usually not somethimg we reveal about ourselves to others either. Not on the first date anyway. These memory or dream rocks would be boring. Other rocks, however, spectacular geological specimens are a different story, With these I can be spectacularly boring.

    I think it’s a cultural thing that some Americans share with some, but not all, others. I can’t imagine culures that travel for their livelyhood, acquiring such hobbies. Bedouins, for example…..migrant farm workers……Inuits or Tlingits. I just love that word, Tlinkit and how the tongue has to click or flutter on the palate. Kids collect rocks until they grow up or move.
    (This paragraph is an eccentric and very secretive literary device used in writers’ circles to keep their readers off balance. I’ll discuss it further with you in a less public forum. In reader circles it’s known as, WTF). When I went away to college, I put some things in a storage. A few years later I cleaned it out and you can imagine the bemused looks of my new girlfriend and others who helped me pack: seven head-sized rocks, twelve cinder blocks, unpainted six boards. A homemade waterbed (four more unpainted boards0 assorted plastic tarps predating the ubiquitous blue, one rusty bbq and an empty 50 gallon drum.

    I have a small rock collection, most of which I collected as a child twice, once, delighted from their natural location and the second time, rescued from the throw away pile during a major move or Spring cleaning set up by my mother, my wife or some other heartless efficiency expert.

    I almost threw them all out awhile back. Some of them are ancient Indian artifacts, not from any known sacred sites, of course, But, one is particularly ancient and I felt a bit guilty having it in my private collection. A Native American Shaman I consulted said I could take it back where I found it, bury it again and apologize to the spirits for taking it. I both apologized for taking it and thanked them for the awareness and the memories.

    Thank you too, Kim, for the memories. I am sorry to go on and on but your posts put delightful little ideas in my pea (my pea’s a’poppin’). From there, I take the opportunity to relax, to reflect and to write. You encourage me so and I think that’s a good thing, No?

    Al Finn

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