Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Talking stones

When I was small, I found a pebble down by the shore. Tumbled smooth from the ebb and flow of countless tides, and warmed by the sun, it sat in the curve of my palm; a rough hewn heart shape, grey and somewhat insignificant. I stumbled across it in my box today; amongst those little things that follow us around which have small face value yet are intrinsically woven into the fabric of memory.

I love shingle beaches at the height of summer; winding my way on unsteady, unshod feet over sun baked stones; creating a perfect hollow in which to lie and drift away to the sound of pebbles relentlessly pulled and rolled by the waves.... and always the stones, smooth worn, patterned and plain, made glossy by the surf in those moments when the tide was high; or dulled by the sun and warm to the touch. Digging down amidst them, there was  sea glass to be discovered ; soft green and opaque like a frosted window. A small collection, carefully chosen, would be amassed by my towel to be used when the tide was low and the soft sand uncovered enough to build castles. The stones would play their parts dependent on size, shape and colour. A window, turret roof or portal would be carefully selected, and the shells by the shoreline used as a crowning decoration. If luck was with me, I would find the perfect flag of seaweed, and discarded lolly stick as standard bearer; or a gull's feather to anoint the tallest tower. A moat would be built, with a channel to the sea, and the hopeful promise of waves to do their work and fill it without crumbling the walls.

When the time finally came to gather belongings and set off for home, I would agonise over which of my treasures to bring back; a smooth pebble that smelled of seaweed and had the salt taste of waves, or the frosted sea glass from sunken galleons and times past. One day I must have chosen this heart pebble; and unlike the others that stayed on the shelf in my room, then dusty and forgotten found their way into the garden beds, this was put into my box of delights to lie still in the darkness holding on to memories.

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