In the house of a girl who loves them, this one stands apart.
She’s got ceramic dishes, jars and Tupperware full of rocks and stones (though she’d need to Google to know the difference between the two). And, though once they belonged to Yosemite, Crater Lake, the Oregon Coast, Whidbey Island, now they just belong here.
Some between the wooden candlestick holders, others underneath the dome of the cheese plate or cradled in the apothecary jar.
Over days, they’ve mingled according to color and feel and ended up in different coat pockets and rooms across this elderly house, so they’re no longer vestiges of a specific trip, but mosaics of time and place. They’ve formed a picture of all that’s come before that feels solid and yet somehow always new as smooth sides and pointed corners fit into place.
Still, this particular rock — and it’s definitely a rock — is different, and you’ll know why when you see its flecked gray and pink. The sparks that catch the eye when you look from the right angles. And its shape. Really, it’s the shape that you’ll notice first.
This rock, front and center on the sideboard is the only true letter in the house’s bunch. Grateful, proud and leaning a bit to the left, it is most certainly an “L.”
Formed by the tumbling of Wallowa River, wedged among the thousands of others in the place where the kokanee taught life, she found this one. Or it found her, who knows.
Since her Sesame Street days, she’s gravitated to the L. With its rings of lovely and lalalalala, lilting lullabies, swirly cursive capital letters, love, life. Her own given name cradled three L’s in all.
Then came Larkin.
She married him, and so she’s one too. Like her fourth-born husband and three girls that carry the name like a treasure.
She holds the rock by its panhandle, and it looks like a boomerang and a state — Idaho or Florida — depending how you grip it.
She thinks of the ways she’s a boomerang, too. Searching the corners and coming back home, always returning.
The ways she’s like a state, immovable, unshakeable, holding firm.
She’s layers of slate, basalt solid, and don’t mess with my babies, or you’re going down.
She’s pebbles scattered along the side of the path. A part here, a part there and over there, too. Feels like she could nearly be picked up by the wind somedays.
She’s smooth side strength and shelter in her cragged places.
Sometimes she is river rock patient, worn by the tumbling until some parts near rub smooth.
But maybe her insides are most like the walls across the ocean, where young Beatrix drew and wrote, near the lakes, between farms. The walls built by generation after generation of farmers. Those low walls that come just about waist high. Those good neighbor fences.
This woman, and you too, I’m guessing, is a shape built bit by bit over time into something completely her. She’s all kinds of things. She’s an L, and she’s more than that. You can’t really box her in. She’s connected to times, places and family that are her, become her.
This groove holding that, this oval cradling the nearly square one beside, with all the spaces in between. Your side mingling with hers.
Today, I’m joining up again with dear Amber Haines of The Runamuck, as we continue our exploration of voice in writing — using words we can see and touch to express things we cannot. Please visit Amber’s to read her glorious writing and that of other writers and friends who link up there. This week’s piece began with the prompt “ROCK.”
Second photo credit: here.