suisekiI went to a farmers market in a small town in North Carolina recently. It was a nice little market, but one particular stall caught my eye. It was an older gentleman selling rocks.

He had a handout on suiseki, which is the appreciation of small, naturally occurring rocks. According to wikipedia, “these stones are not just any stones which can be found in nature; they must be expressive stones and have a special shape, color and texture to be categorized as suiseki.”

He had a variety of small- to medium-sized stones, each of which sat in its own hand-carved, flat, wooden base. To me, the base held the key to the whimsy. He had to carve the wood to fit each rock exactly.

I loved everything about it. I loved the appreciation of nature, of beautiful stones, and the fact that someone spent hours lovingly creating this art out of nature. That every base was carefully crafted to honor small, humble, elemental pieces of our earth. Why not honor stones? What is more beautiful and deserving of worship than nature?

Before I get carried away and write a poem or something, here’s a little story.

When I was a very young girl–like 7?–I had a rock collection. I somehow collected a lot of cool stones, like geodes, amethyst, petrified wood, petoskey stones, iron pyrite, quartzes, opals, granites, and more. I don’t even know how I came to have these stones….I was so young, I don’t remember where they came from. My parents gave me most of them, probably. I loved them and would regularly wash them–admiring how the water made their colors brighter–and put them back into their storage area (styrofoam egg crates). I learned the names and facts about lots of stones.

It’s so funny how a strange little hobby as a very young child now seems, to me, as an indication of high sensitivity. I would hold, touch, and stare and those stones for hours, lost in thought, wonder, and appreciation.

When I got older, I was embarrassed when my parents would mention my old stone collecting hobby. Now, of course, I think it was neat. I wish I still had them.

So, it isn’t surprising that I liked this old man selling stones at the market. As soon as I spoke to him, I knew I’d found a kindred spirit. Any person who could devote a large part of their life collecting, sanding, and preparing rocks and hand-carved wooden stands must be an introvert, and likely an HSP. He had a story for every single stone. “I found this one while I was a ship captain in Alaska 10 years ago.” “Someone gave me this stone in New Mexico and all the colors came out when I sanded it.”

In him I saw someone who had a satisfying, artistic hobby that he loved, and I was a bit jealous.

I definitely didn’t need a stone with a wooden base, but lately I’ve allowed myself to buy some things that make me happy, even if they seem silly. I bought the little stone pictured above–it’s petrified wood. I love it and it reminds me of that old man and his lovely hobby. Sometimes I just pick it up, enjoy the smoothness, and set it back down in its base, with a little smile.