Pursuing Pebbles

August 22, 2015

“My peace of mind comes with picking up pebbles.  Some people fly-fish.  Some people hang glide.  Some people do needlepoint.  I pick up beach pebbles. . . . pursuing and perusing pebbles gives me pleasure.  They are reminders of a natural world that grinds everything down to size.  Some the sea shatters and breaks, some it makes beautiful, some it just gives up on.  There is an aesthetic pleasure here, and an athletic one in bending and stretching; an intellectual pleasure in trying to figure out the physics of pebbles, the puzzles of tides, the working out of a set of pebbled values that depends upon rock and place and time.”
— Ann Haymond Zwinger, The Nearsighted Naturalist

Watercolor sketches of favorite pebbles

Watercolor sketches of favorite pebbles

Watercolor sketch of pebble with a hole in it

Watercolor sketch of pebble with a hole in it

Watercolor sketch of pebbles

Watercolor sketch of pebbles


I feel like I am in good company, for the artist Georgia O’Keeffe also was drawn to rocks and often lined her windowsills with these and other found objects.  You can see them in these photos from the March 2002 Architectural Digest article:




Pebbles and Friendship

October 29, 2012

Circle of stones, circle of friends

by Valerie Worth, from All the Small Poems and Fourteen More

Pebbles belong to no one
Until you pick them up —
Then they are yours.

But which, of all the world’s
Mountains of little broken stones,
Will you choose to keep?

The smooth black, the white,
The rough gray with sparks
Shining in its cracks?

Somewhere the best pebble must
Lie hidden, meant for you
If you can find it.

My new friend Bonnie gave me this collection of assorted stones with white lines.  She said the circle represents her circle of friends, and I will be reminded of her friendship, in particular, whenever I look upon my necklace of stones.

Making art from rocks and other natural objects reminds me of Andy Goldsworthy sculptures, such as this spiral of broken pebbles scratched white with another stone (1985, The Borders).

The book, Andy Goldsworthy: A Collaboration with Nature


The western part of Glacier National Park is dominated by Lake McDonald.

Little did we know that much of Glacier National Park shuts down by mid-September.  Most campgrounds were closed by September 19th. This was the final weekend for staying at the Lake McDonald Lodge and the Glacier Park Lodge at East Glacier.  The Going-to-the-Sun Road was closed between Avalanche and Logan Pass on September 19th for construction, so we had to access the park from two different entrances, about 90 miles apart. 

Still, we counted ourselves lucky to have so much of the park in uncrowded circumstances. We divided our time — half of Day 1 in West Glacier, and the morning of Day 2 in the park by St. Mary’s.  The weather was too blustery for our planned hikes, so we just enjoyed the scenery and short trails close to the road. 

Shoreline of Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park

Looking across Lake McDonald to fire-ravaged slopes and distant peaks

We could drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road as far as Avalanche Creek.

Deeply crevassed bark of fir tree on Trail of the Cedars nature trail

These tree roots reminded me of pigs' hooves!!

My husband fishing off the dock at Lake McDonald (no luck)

A few early touches of fall colors on the shore of Lake McDonald

Pebbly shore of Lake McDonald

A peek at the magnificent lobby of the Lake McDonald Lodge

The drive between West and East Glacier and the St. Mary’s entrance was stunningly beautiful.    We took it at a leisurely pace, twice (there and back).   Not a bad compromise for the forced inaccessibility of the Going-to-the-Sun traverse across the park.  We stayed in an inexpensive motel (aah, the showers! the bed!) in East Glacier instead of the more expensive National Park Lodge.  We felt we were able to appreciate a lot of Glacier National Park’s scenery and other offerings even on such a short visit.

Along Hwy 2 between West and East Glacier

Look at the amazing array of colors in the ditch of Hwy 2

Peek at the lobby of the Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier. It would be open one more day before closing for the winter.

Andy Goldsworthy-like sculpture on the lawn at the Glacier Park Lodge