When I was in 4th grade, I was "interviewed" by my elementary school's newsletter editor because I had won a contest for a drawing I'd done. I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I'm sure the interviewer was expecting me to say I wanted to be an artist or something having to do with the fact that I'd just won a drawing contest. But no. Without hesitation, I told her I wanted to be a geologist. So that's what got printed in the newsletter article. I think back on that and can't help but chuckle.
I have inherited from my mom and her family, a love of rocks. I started collecting rocks when I was a child. I even asked for (and got) a rock tumbler/polisher for Christmas one year. It was probably the Christmas just prior to the aforementioned "interview". I had this dream only a child would conjure up that I would make all my rocks beautiful and shiny and discover the hidden beauty in them so I could make jewelry and other pretty things for others to enjoy.
Fast forward over thirty years (and many career path changes) later to when Hubby and I bought this little house that would become Rosehaven Cottage. It was in a shambles. To most it definitely qualified as "scary". I know it qualified as such to most of our family members. It needed so much work. But it had "good bones" as our house inspector said. And we saw the hidden beauty within it.
We would be only the third couple to own the little 1947 house. Consequently, much of what the original owners had put into the home when they custom-built it almost 60 years previously was still there. It was just buried in years of dust, dirt, and neglect. The garden was no exception. I came to dub the garden the "Winchester Mystery Garden" because I would find the oddest things while digging in the dirt.
One quite serendipitous object that I would uncover periodically would be a single old child's marble. The first time it happened, it was a small joy. Then the second, third, fourth, and consecutive times it happened it became sort of a good luck charm. If I found a marble while digging in the garden, it signified to me somehow that I was doing the right thing by bringing this little place back to life.
Another wonderful discovery I had while digging in the dirt was the day I uncovered the former owner's rock pile. It had been buried in compost and sediment from years of leaves and rain falling on it. I dug and dug that day finding every wonderful rock I could have ever dreamed of finding back when I was in 4th grade. The owner had used many of the rocks to embed in concrete slabs as part of the walls of a lanai that was built (and dedicated with a plaque I uncovered) in 1961. The rest of the stock pile had been buried. And I was the lucky girl that found them. Be still my dormant little 4th grade heart.
Along with the rocks, the former owner had collected abalone shells from days of abalone diving expeditions out on the bay (a neighbor that has lived here for decades told me this). After removing the contents for an abalone feast for the owner and his diving buddies, he would take the lovely shells and embed them into the concrete wall of the lanai along with the rocks. I found many abalone shells, whole and broken, as I dug around the garden. And when the dilapidated lanai had to be torn down, I carefully removed each rock and abalone shell to use it somewhere in the garden. Interestingly, the abalone shells would often pop right off the concrete completely intact while the rocks wouldn't fare as well.
Now all the rocks and abalone shells that the former owner lovingly collected are showcased somewhere in the garden either as a path border in the front or as a pond border in the back. And the marbles have come inside to reside on a shelf in my studio.
Am I disappointed that I didn't become a geologist? No. What I didn't know in 4th grade, that I know now is that I can collect rocks and love them without being a geologist. I also didn't know like I know now there are many other things in life that need to be polished in order for their inner beauty to come forth... like little old houses, neglected gardens, and even people. And when you throw them all in together into the big proverbial "rock tumbler" of life's experiences, they polish and smooth one another.
As I've reflected on this wonderful phenomenon the past week, I've come to the conclusion that I need to share more of my own "rock tumbler" experiences here--particularly the ones I've had while bringing this little house back to life and making it into Rosehaven Cottage.
And I hope that you will indulge me as I take this introspective journey that I am about to embark upon.
Scroll up the sidebar for the additional "chapters" to the story -->