A Stone in Time

The stone retaining walls at the front of the houses I walked past today were very pretty in the sunlight.

The mica and quartz in one individual stone sparkled and glinted and I stopped to admire it for some time. I assumed the smoothness of the stone came from the ice and snow pushing it around until it popped out of the ground once the icebergs melted, and it eventually made its way into a truck, bound for a landscape on someone’s front lawn. Or maybe it was river rock, and smoothed over time by thousands and thousands of litres of water rushing over and around it, caressing it into shape like fingers to clay. I liked that explanation better.

I stopped and put my hand out to the stone, feeling the warmth of it on my hand, marvelling at the texture, wondering how long it had been part of the wall now surrounding the home behind it.

A creeping juniper covered half the wall, and I brushed it back to reveal more pretty stones, some with pink hues, some with white marbled granite through them. Blacks, greys, and every hue in between dotted the wall, and bits of thyme, juniper, and other unidentifiable vines grew out of nooks and crannies, giving it that disheveled, yet natty appearance so many strive for when creating the ultimate landscaping look. It was beautiful, and serene, and calming for some odd reason, and I stopped, leaned against it, and watched the world around me for some time, thinking about the exact spot where I was, letting my mind wander. I stopped thinking about my to-do list, and the myriad of tasks I wanted to get done.

I just stood, and breathed. Soon, without the noise of my day creeping through my thoughts, I began to daydream, something I have not done in a very long time.

I imagined for a moment that the wall could talk, and it was telling me the story of the house behind it, the people who had lived there, the history it had witnessed, the time that had passed giving way to so many memories.

In my mind, I could see the 50’s Cadillac in the driveway. I could hear the children laughing and yelling at one another as the parents packed everything up to leave on a vacation. I could hear the winter weather hitting the big bay window at the front of the house, and could see the young child with their Canadiens sweater shovelling the long, sloped driveway, breath pluming, scarf tied tight. I could smell the baking coming out of the kitchen to the side of the house, the aromas of Spanikopita, apple pie, or tourtiere perforating the scent of Fall air and the smokestack from the hospital nearby. I could somehow see a family scene unfolding, listen to the conversations, feel the joy, and pain, and fear of those who had been and gone.

I turned, my daydream interrupted by a barking dog, its owner chasing it across the park on the other side of the street. I looked back to the stone, once again touching it palm to round, feeling the sun-warmth through my fingers. The stone stared back, sparkling away as it has for so long, unaware of the history it has no doubt seen, absorbed, and catalogued were it capable. My imagination the only tool willing to pry out a supposed story of life in that particular house, with this particular wall, with that particular stone.

I came to a funny conclusion when I pulled the brake up on my stroller, and continued on my walk. I have spent so much of my time hurrying from place to place, always with something to do, always working hard to get everything accomplished, that for a long time now, I haven’t just stopped and looked around me, listened to and felt what is around me.

This has always been my form of meditation, and creative instigation. I must remember this as I write. I must remember to stop and feel the warmth from the stones now and then, and be reminded to just breathe and allow my imagination to regain its foothold in my mind.

Like the stone in the wall I noticed, I too must stop from time to time and absorb what is happening around me. I must catalog the history unfolding within my grasp, and cherish it, allow it to shape my thoughts. For like the water that perhaps shaped the stone, once it has slipped past me, it is gone, and with it, a tiny piece of me, rounding me out, creating me.

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