Saturday, August 28, 2010

Heart Stones

"We tend to find what we're looking for," Jim said. In a rare moment of synchronicity, I said I couldn't agree more. (Actually, my standard phrase for this is, "Perception is all there is." Meaning things are as we chose to see them. Not exactly the same thing, but close enough.)

He said this yesterday as we were well into a steady uphill climb on a new hiking trail in Norvin Green State Park. (I'd quickly dubbed it the Fried Egg Trail in honor of the yellow-on-white Mine Trail marker pictured here.) I'd spent most of the previous 20 minutes with my eyes glued to the ground, carefully navigating the rocky ascent. And I'd noticed what seemed like dozens of stones shaped like hearts.

I have my friend Shelley to thank for this. A few years ago we were strolling the beach together in Point Pleasant and I was talking about my obsession with shell collecting. I've got so many I should be ashamed to even look at another, yet I can't seem to help myself. She suggested switching to pebbles, and I confessed to having pocketed more than a few of those as well. I consider them souvenirs--even though, with few exceptions (like the large river stones from Montana and the smooth gray rocks from the Maine coastline) I've no idea where they all came from.

Then she told me that a friend of hers collected stones shaped like hearts. This opened a whole new world to me, one that required keener powers of observation and a bit of imagination. Some of the stones I have only look like hearts to me--and that was Jim's point. If I want to see hearts, I will. And yesterday I saw so many that I decided it was a sign. Maybe I needed to open my heart more? I've been feeling pretty self-centered lately, focused more on what I want and need than on the people around me. So was this nature's way of telling me to pay more attention? To share more love? Connect more deeply with those I care about?

I held this feeling in my consciousness as we moved through the day. Jim and I seemed more in sync than usual, and we both commented on how present we felt. Everything about the hike seemed more intense, and the sights were like a Reader's Digest condensed version of what we love best. These pictures capture a few of them: strenuous climbs, spectacular views, a black-and-blue butterfly perched on my leg, several abandoned mines, a cascading brook hidden from view, even a real bat cave!

The piece de resistance was a wacky house nestled in the trees along the road out of the parking lot. Part tent, part domed sheet metal, it was painted a vibrant shade of pink--as was everything else in sight. From the iron front gate to the lawn chair cushions, the mailbox to the old Volvo in the driveway. Pink. The color of love. The shade of the heart.

Could it be another sign? The way we choose to see things is the way they are.

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