TAG | Rosalie Sanara Petrouske
Last summer Writing at the Ledges member, Rosalie Sanara Petrouske, spent one week staying in a cabin in the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This reflection was written for the “Pile of Pebbles” writing prompt. After a brief hiatus, we are returning to our member’s musings with a promise to be more diligent in our postings.
Along the coast of Lake Superior, there are secret coves and inlets where pebbles are stacked and polished at the shoreline, washed clean from the lake’s tides, time-worn, spit onto the sand and then washed out again not to return for centuries. This summer as I walked the beaches in the Porcupine Mountains, I spent several hours one afternoon searching for agates.
Agates are not like the gems we normally think of, banded with color, crafted by the skill of the lapidary—they are rather plain, golden brown or marked by russet hues—easily mistaken for quartz or chert, you have to know how to find them, have an eye for unseen beauty, and the ability to pick out the subtle streaks of tan, yellow or orange imbedded deep in their opaque surface. The translucency is rarely obvious unless the stone is wet.
As the waves rolled to the edges of my toes, I bent over, scanning piles of pebbles, picking some up, turning them over in my palm, tossing others aside. The sun beat down on my shoulders, even now several months gone by—I can still hear the soft rumble and splash of water, a seagull sailing overhead, calling out, smell the air filled with the green fragrance of spruce, cedar, and mosses melded and drying on driftwood—the deeper depths of the lake itself—sun drenched beach grass, and algae floating in the silt at lake’s bottom.
Finally, I found one lovely stone, an agate I am almost certain; it glows with stripes of red and burnt sienna when I hold it up, still wet, and place it in my palm. I will keep it to remember this peaceful afternoon—to remind me that not everything I see is always clear at first—some facets are hidden and take time to find—such as knowing who my true friends are, being thankful for my family, or being appreciative for the small kindnesses in my life. When I am living day-to-day, I don’t always notice a sunset, or the dragonfly that lands on the porch railing, and then waits a moment before flying off.
There is much to recommend for an afternoon sitting on a picnic table in a spot of shade, a breeze caressing my shoulders as I write these words. There is much to recommend for the simplicity of minute moments in time.
Photo Credit: “A Pyramid of Pebbles”
©2014 Rosalie Sanara Petrouske
The following story is by WATL founder Rosalie Sanara Petrouske. She wrote it in response to a Fiction 440 challenge. If you’re not familiar with Fiction 440, it’s a Lansing-area group that challenges folks to write a short story of no more than 440 words using a set of prescribed words. They then invite the authors to read their stories aloud at a local pub or restaurant. For this story, the prompt was anniversary, toys, and composing. Enjoy!
I open the door to Sierra’s room, and sit on the bed. Running my hand over the smooth yellow spread, I notice how the throw pillows are stacked perfectly against the headboard. I can remember yelling at her countless mornings about making her bed. Books we read together are slid neatly into their places on the shelves, along with the journals she kept filled with tales about girls her age, who traveled on adventures around the world. “Mommy, Mommy,” I hear her call, “come listen to my new story!”
Stuffed toys she slept with when she was afraid of the dark sit forlornly, some on her bed, others tucked upon shelves or perched on top of the dresser. Wrapping my hands around the little brown otter, Seaweed, I give him a kiss. Clicking open my pen, I begin composing another letter to her.
Your dad is upstairs, already asleep, and Tucker is napping in his dog bed. Whenever Tucker hears the school bus stopping at the end of our block, he still runs to the door, tail wagging wildly. When you don’t come home, he plops down, dropping his head in his paws. I think dogs tell time by sound; certainly not by years. Tonight, the stars are out, scattered all over the sky like glitter confetti. If you were here, we’d put on our coats and go find the Big Dipper. Once I used to long for all this quiet, for hours with no interruptions. I don’t anymore because I miss you too much. If I didn’t know better, I could almost believe you were at your best friend’s house for a sleepover, and when you come home, I’d be whipping up a batter of pancakes with chocolate chips. Today is the first anniversary. . .
I stop writing and smile at my foolishness. My daughter has only left for college. It’s not like she has gone away forever, not like the daughter I read about in today’s newspaper who died in a car accident because she was texting and driving. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain that mother must be feeling. The phone starts ringing in the other room. Setting down my pen, I hurry to answer it. “Hi,” Sierra says. “I was just thinking about you.”
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“Walking back to my dorm. There are so many stars out tonight. The sky is amazing.”
Yes,” I tell her. “I know.”
I go to the window and look up.
© 2012 Rosalie Sanara Petrouske