Monday, March 24, 2008

Skipping Stones

Ever since the day, 23 years ago, when I saw my best friend's older brother skip a stone across the pond at Long's Park I've wanted to be able to do it too. I watched the stone skim gracefully across the surface of the water and thought that that must be the most amazing skill to have. I immediately wanted to acquire and perfect such a trick and asked my friend's brother how to achieve such a feat. He gave me a brief tutorial that he, being a 12 year old boy, surely thought explained perfectly the intricacies involved in skipping a stone. Needless to say, my attempts at skimming the rocks I had collected across the pond failed with a few miserable "plunks". After that day, any time I came upon someone skipping stones across water I had to give it another go.

It's been many years since my last attempt to skip a stone.

This past weekend we traveled out to the eastern end of Long Island to visit Arbor Boy's family. Sunday afternoon the two of us along with his brothers and sister-in-law jumped in the car for a visit to the ocean, a tradition that we hold to no matter what the weather. We were wandering down the beach checking out the waves, picking up shells, zoning out on the beautiful day. I don't know who started it, but soon Arbor Boy and his oldest brother were skipping stones across the calm knee-deep water that was barely disturbed by the incoming waves. The determination that I've felt every time since that day at Long's Park came flooding back (along with the little 8 year old girl),

"I wanna skip stones, too."

Being a natural teacher, Arbor Boy gave me a much more detailed description of the art of skipping stones. Armed with my new found knowledge of stone size, shape and heft, wrist maneuver and stance I collect a few stones. My first stone again plunked loudly and solidly into the water, as did my next few. Dejectedly, I figured that I was just not meant to be a stone skipper. But my natural urge to keep doing something until I get it right kicked in and I searched carefully for the perfect stone. Finally I found one that looked like a candidate, flat, slightly rectangular and light weight. I grasp it as firmly as I could so that it would spin off my finger and flung it as low and level as I could. I saw it zip through the air along the water and hit...then, skip...skip....skip. I had skipped my first stone and, what was more, I had skipped it four times.

I am not ashamed to admit that I felt more satisfaction in that moment than I have for a long long time. It was the satisfaction felt only after many failed attempts. The satisfaction of finally squashing the frustration that comes with not being able to perform such a trivial task. The satisfaction of a spunky 8 year old girl who can now hang with the big boys.

And it felt great.

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