This is the closest I get to making visual art these days, arranging rocks from the ever-growing pile on the deck. My husband and daughter are arrowhead hunters and rock collectors. We have rocks in the garden beds, in pails, in pockets, on the front porch, in the stroller, on dressers and bookcases, on the fireplace mantle, in the washer and the dryer. They are always bringing the beach home with them.
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I’m pretty good at painting tiny details. It feels meditative and relaxing. I made this today for my beach-combing, rock-collecting valentine.
The design I painted here is an inexact copy of the artist and illustrator Phoebe Wahl‘s 2016 valentine. I adore her work! Phoebe just won the Ezra Jack Keats book award and I can’t wait to get her new book Sonya’s Chickens.
Since I’m emphasizing scale, perhaps this photo makes more sense.
I grew up next to a salt marsh. Tall grass and cattails, a muddy bottom estuary that filled and receded with the tide, meandering toward the town harbor. Low tide on summer nights, the breeze kicks up briny and strong. Good salt air. That is the smell of home.
As a girl I’d play behind the neighbor’s house, where the woods met the edge of the marsh. The trees made a canopy, dappled sunlight falling on a shallow pool of water surrounded by skunk cabbage and rocks. A small wood plank stretched between rocks allowing passage over the water. I’d hop from rock to rock, balance across the plank, poke the mud with a long stick, and make up stories out loud. I didn’t like to share that place. I preferred to be there alone, dreaming my words out loud to myself, Sarah, Queen of the Skunk Cabbage.