In the summer of 2018, I enjoyed painting rocks. In fact, I painted enough rocks to put two in every one of my neighbors' front yards. I lived at Pacific Village. We had 82 homes in our park. The rocks were painted as cats, dogs, quilt patterns, English cottages, and more. I wrote Pacific Village 2018 in permanent pen and painted a big red heart on the back of each rock. I used sealant on the rocks as weather proofing. My dog, Carter, and I put one or two rocks in yards when we'd walk around the park. We wanted to spread magic and wonder, so we were as stealthy as we could be, but pretty soon, neighbors were figuring out where the rocks were coming from. I like to smile and laugh, and I'd like to think that we spread smiles and laughter around the park.
A new tradition was born. Many neighbors painted rocks for their yards and some brought rocks to my yard. We had fun. Fast-Forward two years. The Almeda Fire destroyed our homes. Our neighborhood. When we were able to return to the disaster area and view what was left of our homes, many neighbors told me that the only things that survived were the rocks. In the ashes of their beautiful homes, the rocks I had put in their yards two years ago had survived. On some, the fronts had burned off, but the backs on the ground retained the Pacific Village 2018 writing with the red heart. Some rocks still had the painting on the front. To me, this shows how love endures. The rocks were a gift of love I had made for my community. Love survived the fire and will endure. The loss of the community is heartbreaking. We are all spread out now. But the love for one another endures. The last two photos are of rocks pulled from the ashes after the fire.