My cousin Leslie, of blessed memory, was a wonderful artist. You could see her art in her very presence. She wore vibrant colors, unexpected patterns, and jewelry that never failed to capture your eye. She shimmered and glowed, even in jeans and a sweater.
Leslie could see art in unexpected things and turn them into objects of beauty. Birthdays and holidays were often marked by a gift of her art. Virtually every room in our house contains something she made – prints, mobiles, pottery, paintings, etchings, and more. If I had to pick a favorite, however, I think it would be a large, square collage in green and gray, anchored in the middle by a heart-shaped rock. I smile whenever I look at it.
After Leslie died, I started looking for heart-shaped rocks. I haven’t found any. Perhaps they are rare and not easily found. I expect, however, that it’s just that I don’t have the eye for them. I keep thinking that one day I’ll look down and there it will be – a heart-shaped rock. I don’t think about it all the time. Maybe that is why I haven’t found one, I just haven’t looked enough. I hope that one day I will find one.
But this past year I found some heart-shaped “not rocks.” During a winter week spent visiting family in San Diego, I found two “not rocks” in the alley. One was a stain in a painted strip on the ground. The other was an indentation in the alley pavement.
And then, a few weeks ago, I found a book at my town’s dump. (OK, at the state-of-the-art recycling facility.)
I enjoy looking through the “give-and-get” book section. I try to take away far fewer books than I leave behind, but I do pick up books that interest me. Some I take to read, while others – old and falling apart, I take to use in art.
There was only one book that I noticed the last time I was there. I didn’t look through it, I just picked it up and tossed it in the car. Only later did I pay attention – the book is called “heart stones.” It has photographs of all those stones I’ve looking for and not finding. It inspires me to start looking again. But this time I know that I may find more “not rocks” than heart-shaped rocks.
It doesn’t matter. Every picture in the book, every heart-shaped “not rock” I find is a reminder of the love that fills my life. And every one reminds me of my beautiful cousin who could look at the world and find art.