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.