For the last couple of weeks, my sisters, mother and I have been planning my sister, Lisa’s, baby shower. Not only was I immersed in an assembly line for invitations, a distinguished member of decorations committee, and wannabe sommelier for the secret pre-party meetings, but I helped make arrangements for the cake and bravely experimented with some candy making (yes, I actually gave this a shot and it turns out, I’m not THAT bad at it). Check this out:
My sister and brother-in-law, Glenn, are having a boy (which explains all the blue and brown) and after months of tossing around names, they finally agreed on Niko. We wanted to do something special for the arrival of baby Niko. So I gathered up the family one afternoon and bought a bunch of river rocks that we painted blue (with baby’s name) for guests to take home and place in their gardens.
The only decent-looking ones are those that I didn’t paint. In fact, my 3 year old did a better job. Somehow, in a family full of artists, I got the crappy end of the paintbrush. I can do stick figures…somewhat. But I cannot pull off brushstrokes, balance and all those inherent little things that artists seem to know.
Since this wasn’t exactly my forte, I didn’t feel like I’d done something truly special for my soon-to-arrive nephew. I wanted to do something Aunt Keri-ish. So I decided to write him a story to go with the rocks. A poem, of sorts.
I have to tell you, I’ve written poetry since I was a teenager. But the stuff I write is typically dark, brief and almost never rhymes, unless by freak accident. My poetry is not something I often share, as it’s a bit more personal than my usual writing. I had to crawl out of my skin a little to write this. And since I didn’t want to give my nephew-to-be a lifetime of nightmares, I dropped the dark and added a little whimsical. I was sort of going for a Dr. Seuss kind of story. And at the end I added instructions for the party guests, describing what to do with the rocks.
Here is the story that I wrote for baby Niko to go with the blue painted rocks (sorry there is a major spacing issue that I just could not figure out for the life of me):
The Rock and the Tree
The rock from afar, holds no special sight.
It sits on the ground, and never takes flight.
And yet, its uses are many, you see.
The rock helped establish the river and tree.
Don’t believe me?
Well, listen, I’ll tell you a story.
Bout a seed in the ground and a rock from the quarry.
How the two came to be special friends over time.
It starts years ago with a cute little rhyme.
Niko the seed lay adrift on the soil.
Alongside the riverbank, where he started to toil.
He thirsted for water and shade from the sun.
But all of his efforts, resulted in none.
As a seed he was stuck and could not move around.
Instead he glanced longingly at the sprouts in the ground.
The water had found them and nourished them so.
It helped them take root and allowed them to grow.
Niko the seed sat helpless and cried.
Fearing, without water, that soon he’d be dried.
In the sun he lay thinking, ‘Oh what can I do?’
The answer came hurling in a rock colored blue.
It scared him at first, landing hard with a thud.
Beside the little seed where it lodged in the mud.
‘Mud?’ wondered Niko, ‘How can this be?’
Well that rock changed the course of the river, you see.
Diverted its path toward the dry little seed.
It helped Niko burrow in the soil to feed.
It gave him the shade from the sun that he’d need.
And Niko was grateful, so grateful indeed.
“From where do you come?” asked the seed to the stone.
“A quarry,” he answered, “where I sat so alone.
‘Til a boy picked me up and took me to his home.
The bright blue caught his eye while he aimlessly roamed.
In his pocket he kept me, day after day.
Then skipped me across the river in play.
Now here I lay, I suppose, for a bit.
Do you mind if I share the mud where you sit?”
“Not at all!” cried Niko, “I’d love you to stay!
To hold conversation and help pass the day.”
“Oh joy!” Said the rock, “and let this be known,
I vow to protect you in this place you’ve been sown.
I’ll provide you with water, friendship and shade,
I hope you will find this a reasonable trade.”
So there the rock sat, giving comfort and shelter.
From the dry summer sun and all of its swelter.
And soon autumn came, then winter and spring.
There sat the rock, still doing it’s thing.
Year after year seemed to pass in a blur.
And that little sapling grew to a large Fir.
The rock sits beside it, though now it’s quite small.
Compared to the tree standing noble and tall.
So the next time you see a small rock on the ground
Perhaps there’s a seed lying somewhere around.
Still don’t believe that a rock can change courses?
Mold a new path and influence the forces
That block us from that which we need to get by?
Then here is something I wish you to try:
A baby is coming, and soon you will see
The manner in which a rock you can be.
His future, unwritten.
His path, open wide.
Be the rock by the river
Be the shade at his side.
Help nourish him now
And guide him along
For he too is destined to grow noble and strong.
Lay this rock in your garden or beside a new tree,
Think of the baby and the man he’ll soon be.
Know in his journey, you helped him become
The tall tree that now shades the small rock from the sun.
Instructions: Place this rock somewhere special – in a garden, a flower pot, your windowsill, near a small or large tree – wherever you’d like. Write your name on a small white scrap of paper and set it beside the rock. Take a picture of the rock and paper along with the object by which you set the rock (can be with a phone camera) and send to Lisa. The pictures will be placed in Niko’s baby book as the ‘rocks’ in his life.
Here are just a couple examples, including mine:
I received a very nice surprise from one of my writer friends, the very lovely J. A. Belfield, who read the story and expressed how much she enjoyed it in an email. She attached a recording of herself, reading the story aloud. I have to say, not only do I adore her accent, but I think she did such a wonderful job reading it, that I had to share it with you. I forwarded her recording along to my sister as a little audiostory for baby Niko.
The Rock & the Tree
What are some creative ways that you’ve welcomed a new baby into your family?