I spent some time walking the bank of the Dyarubbin River (that some of you may know as the Hawkesbury/Nepean), connecting with nature to ease my mind. Listening and watching the birds, and from a distance, as I stood silently, a pair of Australian Swamp rats scurried in and out of the vegetation.
Surveying the changes wrought by major flooding, noting how some of the channels had changed, the banks had shifted, and river pebbles were deposited in new places. I walked through shallows created by the deposit and then stood in piles of river pebbles.
River pebbles come in various sizes and shapes, worn and beautifully smoothed and rounded by the movement of the river. When they are wet, they display a variety of colours. When dry, the colour palleted is more muted and consistent.
While looking around and thinking about the power of the river, surrounded by thousands of river pebbles ranging from almost boulders all the way down to the fine grains of sand, something caught my attention. among the muted greys of the dry pebbles.
Stooping, I picked up the little pebble that stood out among the muted greys of the dry pebbles. The shape, colour, and pattern of this little pebble were different.
The pebble revealed upwards of twenty visible layers of alternating colour. Layers displayed in oblong rings due to the way that the pebble had been weathered and smoothed. Rolling the pebble in my hand, seeing something new and interesting from every angle, I was stuck with joy by its beauty.
I thought about each of the layers revealed in this pebble, the time scales to lay each of them down and compress them into sandstone. The forces required to wear down the larger piece of sandstone from which this pebble originated and place it somewhere in a stream and the river.
Rolling the pebble in my hand, I also noticed a rough surface on this otherwise smooth, cool little pebble. That rough surface indicated the pebble had sat still somewhere in the water system for a very long time as the waters moved over its surface to smooth and shape it into its current form. I wondered how, after sitting for so long in one place, nature decided to move this little rock and how far it had travelled.
The pebble made me think about what has anchored me to time and place, the forces that have shaped and smoothed me, and the forces that have uprooted me and moved me through life. Every time I pick up this pebble, I contemplate.
This little pebble simultaneously grounds me in the moment and makes me feel insignificant in the scales of time and space.