Nature’s Valentines Are All Around You
I’ve always loved beach combing or staring at the ground while hiking to see what treasures may be underfoot. My rewards have been varied—from a delicate shell to an ancient flint tool. But my favorite things to spot are heart-shaped stones.
I found my first on my property in Texas. The sloping ground was littered with rocks of all sizes—rocks I painstakingly moved to create garden spaces. I’d sort them in piles by size, and occasionally one would catch my eye—as did this one. I treasured it, and made sure it made the journey with me when I relocated to Seattle.
Over the years, I’d find at least one almost everywhere I’d look—on the rocky beaches of the Washington and Oregon coasts, on hiking trails in Mt. Baker National Forest, on the shores of Lake Washington in Seward Park, in stream beds and campgrounds, and even my own garden paths. I’ve amassed a collection of nearly forty in varying sizes from tiny (> one-inch) to nearly six inches across. I found this one on a path in the North Cascades—put at nearly three feet across it was far to large to bring home in my backpack.
The colors vary from gray to gold to green. They can be marked by crystals, striated, or solid colors and rough and pitted or polished smooth. Each carries the geology of its surroundings in its form as a reminder of its birthplace. The shapes are rarely perfect, but my artist’s eye lets me see the form even in the abstract. They range from round and chunky to angular and delicate.
Though some of the larger rocks in my collection grace my garden, the rest are scattered around my house as part of my nature-inspired decor.
They sit on shelves and window sills.
Smaller stones are gathered in pottery bowls and this lovely “nest” made from repurposed electrical wire and found bits.
Their natural ruggedness is the perfect compliment to vases of flowers.
I’ll continue collecting them as long as I can walk a path, wonderful reminders of the love I have for the natural world.
- Words by Andrea Leigh Ptak
- February 13, 2015
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