In addition to all of the lovely blues and whites of the Aeolians, we were also treated to an extreme variety of beaches. Beaches with black sand, beaches with black lava rocks, beaches with brown sand, and beaches with smoothly polished stones. The beach in front of our rental apartment was a rocky beach. The rocks glistened in the sun, threatened to twist ankles, and lured us into the crystal clear water. Each wave that hit the shore resulted in a sound that I hadn't heard since we lived on Puget Sound...a distinct tinkling, like one of those exotic rain sticks, water and stones in an intoxicating little rhythm of their own making.
During the trip, I brought along a copy of This I Believe (Thank you, Carrie). I have always liked to listen to these NPR pieces while doing the dishes, but I hadn't actually read any of the essays before and it turned out that I couldn't get enough of them. These snippets of distilled beliefs both big and small hit just the right reading note for me as I sat in a beach chair close to the water's edge. But in between dips in the ocean and reading another essay, I felt compelled to pick up a few rocks and toss them in the water. And I wasn't the only one.
Several times a day, all four of us would find ourselves suddenly throwing, skipping, lobbing stones into the ocean. I can not tell you how satisfying and mesmerizing that simple act of tossing rocks was. It transported me back to a dusty little bridge over the coulee near the old farm house where I grew up in South Louisiana. A place where my sister and I spent countless afternoons tossing rocks down into the coulee: waiting for that "plop" and watching the rippling circles. A place I like to retreat to sometimes in my mind.
One of the reasons I think this was such a relaxing trip for all of us was that we were truly unplugged. No internet service, no reliable phone reception, no computers, no electronic games, just water, rocks, and books. The water and the books were always part of the original plan. But the rocks were a very pleasant surprise. And as I continued to read, I realized that I have a simple, perhaps silly, belief. I believe in tossing rocks into bodies of water. It clears the mind, soothes the soul, and is just good ole-fashioned-fun.