Ontario author taking rock art from Deer Lake on his first book tour
DEER LAKE, N.L. — Tara Pinksen has painted and hidden a lot of rocks with her children over the past year.
The Deer Lake woman and her family had heard about the rocks effort and thought it was just about spreading kindness.
So they’d paint the rocks, add nice sayings and place them on trails. But when returned to find their rocks, they’d be gone.
“And we were so disappointed and upset that people had taken our rocks instead of leaving them for everyone to enjoy,” she said.
That was until they discovered hiding the rocks so others can find them and hide them somewhere else is what the rock art craze is actually all about.
Now Pinksen and her children — Talon, Harper and Greyson Pinksen and step-son Kaleb Watkins — are over-themoon excited one of their rocks is about to embark on a super journey as it travels with author Matthew Heneghan on book tour across the country.
The rock is shaped like the iconic triangular shield that appears on Superman’s chest.
It was Kaleb who first recognized the shape. When Pinksen didn’t see it, Harper put it up to her chest so she could visualize it better. At the kids’ prompting, she painted the Superman symbol on the rock and Greyson hid it on the trail at the Deer Lake beach.
That’s where Heather Down, owner of Wintertickle Press, found it Aug. 25.
Down had been visiting Newfoundland from Barrie, Ont., and was spending a night in Deer Lake before flying home.
The find was a poignant one. Her company is about to release Heneghan’s memoir, “A Medic’s Mind,” and Superman is a recurring theme in the book.
Heneghan is a retired army corporal who worked as an army medic for six years and then as a civilian paramedic until 2017.
The book details his battles with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, addiction and the fallout of suicide.
From his home in Mississauga, Heneghan said his PTSD diagnosis came in February 2017 after his life took a downward spiral. Getting arrested for driving while under the influence was a huge catalyst that showed him he needed help.
“As a paramedic, I’ve responded to so many vehicle accidents that involved alcohol and then here I was doing something as egregious and silly,” he said.
He started seeing a therapist, who made the PTSD diagnosis, and he decided to stop working as a medic.
“I started going through a loss of identity and not really knowing where I fit into the world anymore,” he said.
He wrote about his situation on Facebook and was encouraged to write a blog. Along the way, he made contact with Down, who asked him to write a piece for an anthology she was compiling, “Brainstorm Revolution.”
Heneghan was going into an addictions rehabilitation centre when his story was accepted for the anthology.
Down kept in contact with him during his stay and, on the last day, sent him a package containing a writing contract.
“She thought I had a story to tell,” he said.
After a year and a half of work, “A Medic’s Mind” will be released Oct. 15.
Superman is a factor in the book because of the “rapturous adoration” Heneghan had for the superhero as a child.
“He was everything I was not,” he said. “He sort of represented everything I wanted to be.”
Heneghan grew up in a tough home and, feeling that the world was broken, he wanted to fix it.
Fond memories of that time revolve around a Superman suit his mom, who died by suicide in November 2017, made for him. He wore almost all the time.
“Those memories of those more innocent times, of really feeling like a kid, kind of became near and dear to me,” he said.
After Down found the rock, she sent a picture to Heneghan. He said he’s not spiritual or religious, but he does like the idea of symbolism.
“It’s symbolic of letting me know I’m not alone and it’s symbolic in that maybe I’ve got my mom’s blessing in doing this,” he said.
So Heneghan will take the rock with him on his book tour and will chronicle its journey through social media.
He and Down thought it would be cool to find the artist who painted the rock. Heneghan posted a message on the NL Rock Art Facebook page.
Pinksen doesn’t have a Facebook account and would not have known about the post if an acquaintance, who recognized her painting, hadn’t seen it and contacted her through Instagram.
Thinking it was a bit weird, it took her awhile to respond.
After hearing of the significance of Superman to Heneghan through some voice messages, Pinksen is glad she reached out.
“I couldn’t take the smile off my face,” she said. “And I’ve been going through a rough patch myself and honestly it just meant the world.
“It’s so cool, because we’ve been doing this for so long and a lot of times you never know where they end up.”
She suspects a lot of the rocks end up in Deer Lake, so it’s nice to see one end up somewhere else other than Newfoundland.
“We place them to put a smile on someone else’s face, but in turn it ended up putting a huge one on mine and all the kids.”
“Those memories of those more innocent times, of really feeling like a kid, kind of became near and dear to me.”
Painting and hiding rocks for others to find is a pastime that Tara Pinksen of Deer Lake and her children enjoy. The kids, from left, Greyson and Talon Pinksen, Kaleb Watkins and Harper Pinksen, are seen with some rocks that are ready for hiding.
This Superman rock painted by Tara Pinksen of Deer Lake will be going on tour with Ontario author Matthew Heneghan as he promotes his memoir, “A Medic’s Mind.”
This is just a sample of the rocks that Tara Pinksen of Deer Lake and her children have painted and hidden for others to enjoy.
Ontario author Matthew Heneghan is about to embark on a book tour with his memoir “A Medic’s Mind,” and he’ll be taking a bit of Deer Lake with him.
Tara Pinksen of Deer Lake is thrilled that a rock she painted will be part of Ontario author Matthew Heneghan’s book tour.