by | Nov 6, 2017 | Ground Work | 4 comments

Rough and Smooth

Two granodiorite cobbles sit on my desk. This shouldn’t surprise you, seems my desk has almost as many rocks as papers on it. These cobbles are similar in size and shape and rock type. Each is spheroidal, shaped on the shores of British Columbia in an area where granodiorite is a common rock type in the coastal mountain ranges.

Rebecca Spit, Quadra Island, British Columbia with the coastal mountains on the horizon.

Granodiorite is an intrusive igneous rock, somewhat similar to granite, though it contains more plagioclase feldspar (which is off-white) than orthoclase feldspar (which tends to pink). It’s also composed of quartz, and darker minerals like biotite (black mica) and hornblende (an amphibolite mineral with elongated black crystals). It most often looks like a speckled, salt-and-pepper rock, as its predominant minerals are black and white. It’s hard, as rocks go, and these cobbles have endured thousands of tides rolling in and out, sculpting them.

SmoothBut they’re different from each other. One, like most of the cobbles along this rocky shore, is smooth, its crystal faces polished off. The other, though perfect in shape, is rough to the touch. Its crystals haven’t been planed off, and their angular faces catch the light. I found it in a sheltered tide pool, and imagine it gently rocked to and fro, shaped by the ocean, but not honed.



There’s something exquisite about its roughness, the texture intrigues. It makes me think about the time and the forces that shape us – rocks and people – and it reminds me that rough can be beautiful too.

What shaped you?

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  1. Terry Groves

    Your descriptions of these stones and the connection you made regarding people strikes a particular chord in me. I have long observed that the longer we know people, put real energy into getting to know them, is similar to the energy and time weather and water put into shaping rocks. We shape our perspectives on people, true perspectives, only after long periods of time, although quite brief when compared to weather working on stone.

    There are people who I considered rather unattractive when I first met them, typicallyly due to some physical attribute that disturbed me. However, after taking the time and energy to really get to know them, I discovered I came to view them in a new, more complimentary way. The action of me observing them being kind, generous, honest, actually seeing their integrity, their inner spirit, smoothed out whatever it was that I saw initially as an abrasive quality and I began to look forward to seeing them. Their character became the beauty that my eye saw. I have grown to love this about people.

    Similarly, however, I have also been witness to some ‘beautiful or handsome’ people who later revealed through their actions or statements that their character was flawed…a flaw I could never unsee.

    I am so fortunate to have you in my collection of beautiful rocks.

  2. Sara Eisenberg

    Smooth is definitely the favored of the pair in our Western minds – a smooth ride, a smoothie that goes down easy, a smooth life. At the same time, we know it’s the rough spots in life that shape us for the good. We can have a lot of difficulty seeing the beauty in ourselves that we see in a tree shaped by wind and sun, or the rough texture of a stone. There’s so much poetry in the language here: cobbles, biotite, hornblende – they are a little bit of rough in the smooth prose that brings out beauty. A wonderful short piece!

  3. Garry Maurath

    Hummmm, as Lesa might say, maybe we are really looking at speckled dinosaur eggs. Sometimes, it is just good to step back and fantasize a bit before getting too serious.

  4. Sharon Galkin

    What “shaped” me? That sounds so…past tense! There’s still much shaping to be done. Just returned from a short visit with my eldest son who is in medical school in Florida. Sat alone at the ocean’s edge for a bit letting the sand, water and gentle breeze help me in my ongoing shaping process…

    Love and Shabbat Shalom.


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Geologists study the earth and the processes that shape it. Writers study the human heart and the processes that shape it. The GeologistWriter builds a bridge between the two. Come across it with me!

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