Intro: Collecting rocks

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 -->

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  1. What a story, Cindy! I read it from A to Z and thoroughly enjoyed it. You are a good writer. Thanks!

  2. What a truly magical post. I love your fascination with rocks from a young age and how God led you to a home where someone else loved rocks too. How great that you have used them in the landscape. Your cottage is so pretty as are the roses. Thanks for sharing such a great memory.

  3. Cindy, I'm catching up on your last few posts. What a special treat to have a hummingbird moth caterpillar in your garden! I've had the moths but have never seen the caterpillars.

    I loved this story about your home and your love for rocks. You are a wonderful story teller! I'd love to hear more!

  4. Cindy, I can hardly wait for the next installment of these stories. You know how I love stories!! I particularly love the last photo of this post with the roses ans house seeming to match! Just beautiful.

  5. I enjoyed reading about your collection of rocks and about the marbles you found in the soil. It's a connection with the former owners and I am sure you will cherish those little coloured things.

  6. A delightful post and interesting piece of personal history! It seems you were destined to buy what is now "Rosehaven Cottage."

    I can relate. I collect rocks, too. And minerals. Maybe we both SHOULD have become geologists, or archaeologists? :)

    I would LOVE to see your rock and abalone-decorated garden!

  7. What a wonderful story. You know I'm enamored with your home & garden, just from the photos you've shared. It's clear that you've poured your hearts & souls into it.

    I'm looking forward to more of your rock tumbler stories!

  8. What wonderful treasures. I remember finding a marble when I was little and imagining who might've owned it. Back then you could find the Victorian marbles which had originally been the stoppers for bottles. Sadly a lot of the bottles were smashed to get the marbles out. They were plain but when they had been used a while, became frosted. Childhood magic.

  9. What a great little journey. I can't wait to see and read more about your cute little cottage and garden! I think a home like this means so much more than moving into a new house that's ready to go on day one.

  10. Love this story! I used to collect rocks as a child and would spend summer afternoons washing them. I loved how they looked when they were wet! I can't wait to hear more of your stories!

  11. I love your love of rocks story.

  12. This is a wonderful post, Cindy! I have had a dream most of my life to do what you have done-- bring an old house and garden back to life! I wonder if I'll ever get my dream...

  13. Lovely story! You are quite talented. All the best with your writing :)

  14. Cindy, I collect old marbles too! I have a hollow glass rolling pin and I put the in there and display it on the wall. The rolling pin is the kind they used to unscrew the cap at one end of the rolling pin and then they would put ice in there to chill the dough. I found an actual rolling pin hanger for the wall. Everyone remarks about it when they see it.

  15. Love your marbles!I collect them too. Most of mine were found in the vegetable garden of the house I lived in as a child. My brother ownes it now and every now and then he still brings me marbles. I keep them in a old fashioned milk bottle and use it as a doorstop. I jokingly tell people I haven't "lost my marbles" I know exactly where they are!

  16. Great story Cindy! I'd read it before my holiday but didn't have the time to comment then. Yesterday I found a marble while digging in my potager and it made me think of you. :-)

  17. What a wonderful story! I collect rocks, too, but sometimes hubby makes me THROW THEM AWAY! Ack! Lovely blog!

  18. I just stumbled upon your blog & had to write. The name of your cottage - Rosehaven Cottage - is what I use for my email addy!

    I am anxious to read the rest of your story.:)

  19. What a stunning story, Cindy! There's so much in it that I empathize with, being a lover of rocks myself. I discovered your site by chance, but will definitley be back. Photography and writing are my passions, and I can see I will enjoying settling in to visit with you and hear your thoughts. Thank you for a moment of peacefulness...



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