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Try This: Small Stones

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

At the end of April a small group of writers joined me for Flower & Garden / Pen & Page, a Saturday morning writing workshop that incorporated a visit to the annual Leesburg Flower & Garden Festival within walking distance of my house.

As part of our writing that day, I asked participants to enter the festival with the intention of gathering small stones. Small stones are present-moment sense impressions that invite us into deep noticing. They require us to fully pay attention to the world around us, and they are fun to write! There are no real rules: they can be haiku-like in their focus, but there is no set form. They can be sentence fragments or short paragraphs. I like this description of small stones from the blog Writing Our Way Home, which is by the creators of the small stones practice.

The writers who came to the workshop agreed to share some of their small stones with me for this post, so I am weaving together theirs and mine as examples of how rich and varied this practice can be. Perhaps they will inspire you to give it a try yourself!

A Miscellany of Small Stones

fuschia: succulent and inviting

deep purple and dark pink velvet

I want to live in a climate where I can keep you alive

through the summer

Harvesting History offers certified organic non-GMO plants: crimson red rhubarb, Mary Washington asparagus roots, candy supersweet onion sets, Persian lime and variegated lemon trees.

red wagons full of common plants

costing twice what they'd be

at Wal-Mart

The word "succulent" spelled correctly and incorrectly on signs.

Rounded heads ahead Milling toward beauty Smooth brown, spiky blue, dread locked. I swerve left into green Leafy here, quieter, sunshine free to sweep. Attracted to art Sparkle of color drawing me close

The vibrant sunshine brought to life beautiful colors of flowers, plants, and


the tall white Virgin Mother loitering amidst her friends:

the monkey, the mermaid, the gargoyle and peace frog.

Does anybody have a cigarette?

A toothless old man wearing a blue Car-Mart ball cap and matching jacket sits in a folding chair near a stand of tulips. He grins up at me and says, “How ya doin’?”

the little boy with dropped jaw

stares at the tray of carnivorous plants, transfixed.

The sign above their spikey and delicate tendrils

reads, "We eat stink bugs."

Bare-kneed, hairy-legged men clad optimistically in Bermuda shorts despite the cool weather.

Two young male police officers in dark shades and black uniforms patrol the sidewalks with stony faces.

they gave me moonflower seeds...a packet of moonlight reflection

Walking to the city of Leesburg and back home from the festival was pristine, with the showering of spring and Mother Nature's beauty everywhere.

the terrarium: I let him choose for me, so I can blame failure to thrive on his choice

beer can bird feeders

man over nature

On the menu at the Parallel food truck: duck fat fries, bacon lollipops, maple bourbon wings, slap yo’ mama chicken subs. A red plastic cooler filled with ice bristles with sodas.

On West Market Street, a stuccoed house the color of melted raspberry sherbet.

cocoa brown poodle on a leash nervously standing watch

undisturbed by the waterfall behind him

waiting for his owners’ return whereupon

he erupts in gleeful jumps and twitches

The bricks of Leesburg: basket weave and herringbone patterns in the pavements, Flemish bond and garden wall bond patterns in the walls of the 18th- and 19th-century houses.

Small Stones Writers (L to R): Diana Read, Lois Montgomery, Carolyn Winter, Mary Winsky, Shaileen Backman, Lisa Colburn (photographer)

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