Rock Magic

Have you ever been walking along the beach and seen a rock that you just had to pick up? Sometimes you carry it for a few steps and then toss it casually aside. Sometimes you take it home and place it carefully in the garden. Sometimes you see another rock and put the two together, because something about the pairing just looks right. This is rock magic. It looks like nothing, feels like nothing, but in fact, is something. I will explain…

I’m sure you’ve noticed, rocks do not have feet, they do not have wings, they do not have fins and they’re pretty dense, so if they want to go somewhere the wind is certainly not going to help. So what do they do? They use us, that’s what! They find unsuspecting people on the beach, or in the mountains, or even just the sidewalk and compel them take them wherever it is that they want to go. That pebble you just tossed into the lake? It’s been wanting to go for a swim all day.

The most memorable experience I ever had with rock magic began at Reynesfjara, the famous black sand beach in the south of Iceland. I found a rock there that called out to me. We spent an hour on the beach together watching the waves and when it was time to go, the rock went with me. This rock stayed with me the rest of the trip, and when I returned to California, it found a new home in my rock collection next to some other friends from Iceland and some new friends from other travels.

When I was planning my second trip to Iceland, I felt like this rock wanted to go home. I put it in the small zip pouch in my backpack and off to Iceland we went. For almost two weeks, this rock went everywhere with me – up mountains, along rivers, into the snow. It was a beautiful trip together until we reached the Glacier Lagoon and I knew it was time to say goodbye. We sat together for a while, watching the glaciers bob in the gentle waves. And, when I felt satisfied with our moment, I gave it a little kiss, placed it lovingly atop a big rock and walked away. I did look back, but only to smile, happy knowing that it was back home and that we had had a beautiful journey together.

Eight months and 10,000 miles of travel only for this rock to end up 120 miles away from where I found it. I really hope it is happy at the Glacier Lagoon, or that if it wasn’t or changed its mind, it found someone else to take it on another adventure. Who knows, maybe it’s relaxing right now on a beach in Fiji.

My little rock, just before we said goodbye.

Dandelion Wishes

This week the sun came out.  Spring has arrived after one of the wettest winters we have had in California in a very long time.  As someone who loves the rain, the seemingly endless wet days brought me joy.  But, no matter how much I love a grey day, there is something special about that moment when the rains stops and the sun peeks through the clouds and stretches its rays out to brighten the already vibrantly green grass. 

The sun brings life.  The trees start to show buds, animals become more active and flowers show their faces to the bright world around them.  Here in America, not all things that grow are considered beautiful and a common sight in California is the pesky dandelion.  Let me just say this…I love dandelions!  I know they are a “weed,” but they are so adorable.  They have those cute little yellow poofball heads resting on stems that burrow down into leaves that splay like jazz hands in the grass. They are cute, cheerful and most importantly full of joy and most important of all…magic!

When I was a child, I was constantly playing with dandelions. I would turn them into little dolls. I would pluck one of their flowers close to the base so it had a nice long stem. Next, I would take a leaf, not necessarily a dandelion leaf, but any big, flexible leaf, and I would fold it, poke a small hole at the fold and thread the dandelion stem through. I would then tie a little piece of grass around the leaf like a belt. Instant doll. They were cute and I could make an entire dandelion family in one afternoon. I would make the children out of the buds, the parents would have bright yellow faces and the grand parents would be made of the dandelions that had gone to seed. An entire generation of dandelion dolls to live in my mud hut or whatever other creation I had built for the day. Joy!

When I wasn’t making dandelion dolls, I was making dandelion wishes. I don’t remember when I learned about dandelion wishes, I’d like to think I was just born with the inherent knowledge that dandelions possessed magic. An inner knowing that blowing every last seed from a dandelion head in a single breath was the surest way to make all my dreams come true. I felt very strongly about dandelion magic. When I wanted something important, I would wander out into the backyard and scour the grass for a grey head. When I spotted one, I would inspect it. That’s the thing about dandelion magic, it has to be the right head or it won’t work. If too many seeds have already fallen off, it’s cheating since half the work is already done, and then the wish won’t come true. If the seeds are too tight, I was guaranteed failure because my little lungs could not blow hard enough to make my wish come true. Once I found the perfect dandelion, seeds intact but not too tight, I plucked it. I would hold that dandelion in my little hands, close my eyes, take a deep breath and on on the exhale I blew and I wished, “I wish to be Princess Leia and marry Han Solo.” Like I said, I did this when my wish was important.

As an adult, I still blow on dandelion heads.  I just can’t help myself.  I still,deep down, secretly believe that they are magic.  I think if I can just blow that last seed off, my wish will surely come true.  My wishes have changed of course.  No longer am I dreaming of growing up to be princess Leia (ok, sometimes).  I now wish for universal healthcare, to win a trip to Antarctica, for my niece to grow up happy and strong.  But even though my wishes may have grown up, in those moments blowing on a dandelion, my belief in magic is just as strong as it was before the world told me to stop believing in fairy tales. But the joy of dandelions is dampened by my adult ego. When I hold the dandelion up to blow for my wish, I feel embarrassed. I worry that someone is watching and judging. Maybe I just need to find the perfect dandelion, close my eyes and blow and once again the world will accept that 32 year-olds just want to go on their lunch break and make a dandelion wish. Because I do, deeply wish, that it was acceptable in this world to triumphantly hold your dandelion poof up to the sky and blow long and hard for all of your heart’s desires.