A few weeks after Viet and I purchased and moved into 410, I went out to survey the barren front garden. My neighbor, “S,” approached me. After some friendly banter and exchange, she recounted the anxiety experienced by the block leading up to our move-in. “S” and the neighbors were aware that two guys had come to look at the house several times, which sparked visions and worries of noise, beer kegs and the detritus of parties littering the neighborhood. Apparently their anxiety increased, but one particular moment dispelled their no doubt frat-boy movie inspired images: I had arrived at the house with my rock collection.
According to her narrative, as I carefully and methodically unloaded my life collection of rocks, “S” got on the phone to our other neighbor who I shall identify as “SK” to say “Those guys have rocks! They're gonna be okay!” The block breathed a sigh of relief.
Yes, dear reader you read that correctly: I unloaded a car full of my life’s collection of rocks.
Surely my rock fetish must count as public confession #2. Viet thinks I am crazy. Several rocks—like the lovely melon/red rock, or this delightfully striated one (to the right)—hark from my Colorado years when upon a hike I would discover an unusual (and for me, breathtaking) rock, and then proceed to carry it back to Denver. (Now my friends should understand why I stopped hiking; carrying those rocks back was exercise enough!). With hopes for a garden of my own, I packed up those rocks and shipped them in the moving container, back to the East Coast nearer to my origins (side note: it thrills me to note that I have now lived in both former North American-based Dutch colonies!).
Though Viet thinks I am more than a bit peculiar (public confession #3: I even have a paintbrush which I use to clean dirt off the rocks walls), my father understands and indeed has indulged my fetishistic desires. He brought two extra-fine specimens: an anvil-looking creature and a waist-high rock-with-ledge (pictured at the top of the post) which is currently hugged by boxwoods and graced by the wispy branches of Lena Scotch Broom. Of course, he also tried to pass along a seated angel garden tchotchke, but I was wise to his plan and foiled it. And he gave me a Washington Monument-esque piece which I adore. But then again, I adore all my rocks.
Rocks punctuate the rhythm of the garden bed and permit the eye a rest. They accentuate particular colors (like the reddish hued fronds of the Tassel Fern) or, like my Obsidian, dramatically rupture the sea of green to provide necessary contrast. Importantly, rocks help the gardener paint the portrait that is the aura of the gardener’s life with additional color, textures, and shapes.
As for the origins of certain other rocks, well, there are far too many to mention here. This melon-Gramsci colored rock came from deep within the heavy-clay soil beneath 410 as we labored to make the west-side shade garden bed. This nickel-rich green stone pictured below…well…let’s say misdemeanors may have occurred and the rock may have found its way into the gardens of 410. Occasionally even a rock needs a surreptitious rescue from "improper" garden usage.