A very rocky hobby
A-rocky new trend has enveloped Southern Maryland — and I’m loving it. I was vaguely aware of this idea of leaving painted “happiness rocks” in public spaces for others to find, but I can’t say it was more than a passing thought. Friends had been posting pictures of their kiddos’ craftiness on social media, paint brushes in hand, and I’ve admired their colorful artwork from afar.
Though I lack any artistic talent, crafts are so appealing; they remind me of projects cheerfully tackled with my mom and grandma growing up. We made felt dolls and painted plates, created Easter scenes inside clean tuna cans and drew endless pictures of princesses and ponds.
I’m creative, but generally uncoordinated when it comes to shaping something with my own two hands. The only exception came when a friend taught me how to form paper roses as part of my wedding decor, and tying curling ribbon on gift packages. What is a present without curling ribbon? Naked, that’s what.
When artsy trends start to sweep my Facebook feed, I admire them without getting attached. I’m not the sort of person who sees a cool piece of artwork or a knitted sweater and contemplates copying it myself; some tools are just better left to the professionals.
Like glue guns. Anything with glue guns.
A new local trend has absolutely nothing to do with sticky molten-hot adhesive, however. I was walking through the hall at work Monday when something shiny caught my eye. On top of a hand sanitizer dispenser I use a dozen times a day, a sparkly orange rock was perched by the elevator. I’d gone through that corridor not 10 minutes before and saw nothing out of the ordinary. No one could accuse me of being unobservant . . . this small stone had just magically appeared.
I almost left it there. Much like you could find a set of keys and debate whether to move them, knowing the owner could retrace their steps only to find them gone, I strangely assumed someone had misplaced this . . . sparkly rock and would be needing it back.
Curiosity won out, though. And once I picked it up, feeling its uneven edges with my thumb, I got excited. On the back was “SoMd Rocks on Facebook,” the online group that had popped up in my feed a time or two. I’d stumbled upon one of its treasures.
The idea is very simple: participants paint ordinary rocks however they like, then leave them somewhere for a stranger to find. The trend has exploded across Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties with families, neighbors, daycares and more all getting in on the fun. A local extension of the Kindness Rocks Project, creations can be inspirational or silly, artistic or simple. Some have messages; others simply drawings or patterns. Regardless, finding one is a thrill.
High off the excitement of spotting my very first rock on Monday, I shared it with my coworkers before joining the Facebook group to spread the love. The artist saw my post and photo, then reminded me to check it out in the sunshine for extra sparkle.
Do you remember Monday? Monday was wet. Ugly. I’d had a terrible battle getting Oliver to our babysitter’s that morning, and started the day already drenched in the fight wrestling him into his carseat. I was tired, as always, with one eye barely cracked as I was walking with hot coffee back to my desk.
Joy in the unexpected. I was buzzing about this rock — such a simple thing, really — all day.
Imagine my delight, then, when I was getting gas on my way home and spotted a huge, beautiful blue rock painted with flowers outside a convenience store. It was too big and obvious for many others to have simply walked by; it must have just been placed, and was still tacky to the touch. Right place, right time. They’re simple things, these stones: but when I found two more at work on Tuesday morning, I was starting to think I should play the Lotto or something.
After you find a rock, you can pop on Facebook to share your excitement with other “rockers” and re-hide — sorry, “plant” — them elsewhere to brighten someone else’s path. Or, you know, you can keep them . . . as I’m doing with the blue floral rock, because I’m pretty much obsessed with it.
There’s no official log, but folks post pictures of their finds in various Facebook groups typically found through notes on the bottom of rocks. Groups exist throughout Southern Maryland. Finders can certainly keep them, but you’re asked to then paint some stones of your own to release into the community.
Finding a rock doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the heart, brain and spirit delight in the unexpected. Knowing a stranger sat and created something that fate would eventually place right in your path . . . well, I think that’s powerful.
I’m a collector by nature, so the urge to hoard my discoveries forever and ever is strong. But I’m resisting. With the exception of the big blue rock (too selfish to share that one yet), the rocks have been cast back out into the community to win over another tired soul.
So keep your eyes peeled. Beauty often lies where we least expect it.