Rockin’ it

Paint some pebbles for your favourite pathways 

By Melanie Mosher

What if hiking with your family could be more than a source of exercise, a chance to commune with nature, and a time to explore the county? What if it could be a source of creativity, a time to express imagination, and a chance to practise random acts of kindness?

Summer is almost here, the days are getting longer, and temperatures are rising. It’s the perfect time to inhale deeply and revel in fresh air. It’s time to get back to walking outdoors and fortunately, Halifax and the surrounding area is blessed with abundant trails. 

Imagine this scene which occurred last Spring:

The gravel crunches under footsteps. The wind rustles through the branches and the speckled shadows dance along the trail as bits of sunlight filter through the canopy of trees. Up ahead an excited voice calls back to her family, “Look! There’s another one.” A young girl, about eight, wiggles with glee, pointing at something at the base of an old spruce. Her brother, about ten, races to her side. Mom, pushing a stroller and holding the leash for the family dog finally makes her way to the kids. They smile and hesitate. Then with a burst of new energy the girl rushes ahead in pursuit of the next gem.

Further back, I witness the event and wipe a tear from my cheek for I know I created the treasures they seek. 

For me, it began last year, while under lockdown during the first wave of the pandemic. Being sent home from my job and the uncertainly of Covid-19 left me filled with anxiety. My usual coping mechanisms of writing and reading failed me. I couldn’t concentrate enough for either. Then I recalled a story of inspirational painted rocks being left along trails for others to find. Random-acts-of-kindness that might be enough to make a mother and her three children grin. “I can do that,” I said to myself. “I can paint rocks!

I had available stones on my property, so I decided to paint a few. My artistic abilities are limited, but I like colour and there were simple ideas on the internet to guide me.

Photo: Melanie Mosher

The next day I filled my pockets and set off for my walk along the section of The Great Trail (formerly The Trans Canada Trail) adjacent my yard. I hid the rocks along the path as I went. My heart grew like the Grinch on Christmas day as I placed each stone, immediately feeling better. The anticipation of someone finding the treasure gave me the mood boost I needed. Returning home, I couldn’t wait to paint more rocks.

The following day some of the rocks were gone, some were moved to new locations. Within a few weeks, there were others. I learned to recognize the styles of other painters, some with incredible artistic talent. Some, like me, just taking the chance for self-expression and spreading joy. Tickled with this new game, I continued even after returning to work.

Recently, I discovered the Facebook page called Halifax Rocks where people who are doing this very thing all over the region are sharing pictures of their creations and discoveries. It has over 14,000 members! 

Why not start rockin’ with your family? Get outdoors, get moving, and spread the love.

Rockin’ Guidelines

Have fun.

  • Use your imagination, anything goes. Monsters, bugs, inspirational words, flowers, and abstract mixes of brush strokes and colour.
  • There are no age restrictions. A fabulous idea for all members of the family.

Express your creativity.

  • Choose rocks from responsible resources. Don’t take rocks from private property.
  • Be thoughtful when it comes to collecting rocks. Don’t hoard them. The idea is to share, so perhaps pick one up, admire it, and find a new spot to set it down.
  • Keep in mind you’re painting rocks for those who find them, as well as, yourself. While this is an opportunity to teach empathy and reap the benefits of random-acts-of-kindness, a young artist may be disappointed to find their masterpiece gone on a return trip to the trail. If they’ve painted a rock they can’t bear to part with consider placing it in their own yard or on a window sill.
  • Take pictures and share publicly on social media if you chose, or do it anonymously, and inwardly cherish the warmth of a good deed.
  • Encourage extended family to participate and invite friends, too.
  • Most of all, get outside, enjoy the company and the fresh air. 

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