A stone’s throw T

The Enterprise - - Southern Maryland | Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

he rocky storm that swept South­ern Mary­land last year con­tin­ues to spread!

While vis­it­ing fam­ily last week in New York, a few stones caught my eye. The statue hon­or­ing na­tive daugh­ter and come­di­enne Lu­cille Ball in Celoron, N.Y., had a col­or­ful rock at its base.

I wouldn’t have rec­og­nized the pur­ple stone for what it was with­out the phe­nom­e­non that is the Kind­ness Rocks project in South­ern Mary­land. These pre­cious stones are meant to de­light any­one who stum­bles upon them (some­times lit­er­ally), and be kept or passed along to bring a smile to some­one else.

Some have pos­i­tive say­ings (“You Got This!”), while oth­ers are just pretty to look at. Ei­ther way, they’re a cheap and easy way to spread a lit­tle hap­pi­ness on, say, a gro­cery run.

Though the rocks are still around, last sum­mer seemed to hit a crescendo in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s coun­ties. I couldn’t run into a gas sta­tion with­out find­ing one at the pump or tucked in a win­dowsill. It was a game to find, col­lect and share them — a new hobby shared by folks across gen­er­a­tions. I loved it, and still do.

When school was back in ses­sion, the fever pitch of rock hunt­ing seemed to cool. Kids and adults alike par­tic­i­pate, but the search­ing seems es­pe­cially ex­cit­ing for the younger crowd. My tod­dler son found one dec­o­rated with a ghostly face out­side a restau­rant. I thought it would spook him, but Oliver tucked it right be­neath his pil­low. We started look­ing for rocks ev­ery­where.

As the lo­cal ob­ses­sion grew, so did com­mu­ni­ties on Facebook. Pages were cre­ated to share the rock love. Par­tic­i­pants post about ones they’ve spot­ted, cre­ated or “dropped” for oth­ers to find. More than 11,000 peo­ple be­long to “Charles County Rocks (Mary­land)” and “SoMd Rocks *OF­FI­CIAL*” apiece, and many other groups ex­ist as well.

For rea­sons I can’t quite ex­plain, I find Kind­ness Rocks to be ab­so­lutely de­light­ful. It’s the el­e­ment of sur­prise. Daily life is tir­ing, rou­tine . . . mun­dane. We’re go­ing about our busi­ness, head­ing into a doc­tor’s ap­point­ment or stop­ping for di­a­pers — and bam! A glit­tery rock right in your path, placed there by an un­seen hand. For you.

My eyes are still peeled, but it had been ages since I’d found one. Af­ter col­lect­ing many rocks last sum­mer, I be­gan re-hid­ing them in my daily trav­els again re­cently. I placed one atop a news­pa­per box out­side a li­brary and walked by to find it gone just min­utes later, so I know peo­ple are still hunt­ing. We just need to keep it go­ing.

Kind­ness Rocks are not unique to our area, but I had never come across more in the wild — un­til last week. At the new Lucy statue, a re­place­ment for the “Scary Lucy” orig­i­nally placed in Celoron in 2015, my hus­band and I were sur­prised to find two spe­cial stones: one at Lucy’s feet, and an­other tucked into a fold of her dress.

De­lighted, I took one with the words “Jamestown N.Y. Rocks!” scrawled on the back. The kind­ness was, in­deed, spread­ing.

The next day, Spencer and I were leav­ing a store else­where in town when he spot­ted a gi­ant white stone by a tree. It was im­pos­si­ble to over­look, and we prac­ti­cally sprinted to the spot. “You Mat­ter!” was scrawled with a red, white and blue heart. I could have hugged it.

It’s a sim­ple thing, re­ally — but these lit­tle acts of thought­ful­ness make a big im­pres­sion. At a time when so much feels di­vi­sive and un­pleas­ant, com­ing across a pos­i­tive af­fir­ma­tion does add a lit­tle sun­shine to our day. It does mat­ter.

That par­tic­u­lar evening, ac­tu­ally, Spence and I were com­ing off a rough day with the kids. We were stay­ing with fam­ily, out of our rou­tines, and far from home. Par­ents know that “va­ca­tion” is re­ally just cor­ralling your chil­dren in a dif­fer­ent, of­ten ex­pen­sive place; there is no rest. No break. Even with my in-laws and oth­ers there to help, Oliver and Hadley want Mom and Dad. There is only so much help we can re­ceive.

And I get it! I mean, that’s what we signed up for. We’re par­ents — their par­ents. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have mo­ments we want to just sit in the quiet, need­ing ab­so­lutely noth­ing with no one need­ing us. I was tired. Men­tally, phys­i­cally.

Our daily work can feel un­seen, and our ef­forts un­ac­knowl­edged. As a mother who had spent the bet­ter part of the pre­vi­ous night com­fort­ing a livid tod­dler, sac­ri­fic­ing both sleep and san­ity, it meant some­thing to me to find “You Mat­ter!” I kept it with me, and placed it where I can see it ev­ery day.

So let’s keep it go­ing. Pass the en­cour­age­ment along.

You never know who will stum­ble upon it . . . and how badly they could need it.

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