When I was a girl, my mom’s mom taught me and my siblings that small quartz pebbles were lucky. She called them “Lucky Stones,” and countless hours of my early childhood were spent hunting along sidewalks and in loose soil for these smooth, milky white bits of rock.
The origin of the lucky stone mythos is a mystery to me, but I have a few theories. Perhaps she really thought quartz pebbles were inherently lucky; Grandma was a superstitious woman, after all. Perhaps it because they were gifts from children, and gifts from children possess a magic all of their own. Or, perhaps she was smart enough to give the three of us something to do that kept us quiet and engaged and outside in the fresh air and sunshine. The praise she lavished when we handed her one of these little treasures suggests the first two, and her cleverness makes me believe all three.
When Grandma passed away in the late 90’s she left us many of her collections to decide what to do with: dishes and dolls and teddy bears and figurines from occupied Japan, jewelry and books and buttons and paintbrushes… And a tiny tube full of quartz pebbles, no doubt picked up off the Earth in the 1980’s by her grandchildren. I still have a handful of lucky stones of my own – some of which I took back from the little tube, believing in their magic, and some of which I found after Grandma was gone.
That early game of looking for lucky stones keeps me walking with downcast eyes, searching for treasures along my path. I stopped picking up stones a few years ago when I realized that, given the frequency with which I move house, a more lightweight collection would probably be easier. In a way, the stories and poems I write are like these lucky stones – they have meaning and worth because I believe they do; they are full of magic because they are gifts, given out of the earnest desire to share what goodness I have found laying in the dirt; and they keep me from engaging in more troublesome activities.
And, my Grandma would have just loved them.