Small Stones ~ The stones cry out. . .

Painted pebbles from Russia and beach pebbles from Spain

Painted pebbles from Russia and beach pebbles from Spain

A small stone is a short piece of writing (prose or poetry) that precisely captures a fully-engaged (mindful) moment. The process of finding small stones is as important as the finished product – searching for them will encourage you to keep your eyes, heart and mind open.

ilovesmallstones

ilovesmallstones

Cтарик on the streets

Scrapes a living by painting

And the stones cry out

When I first went to Southern Russia in 1995 it was a very different place to what you see today.  The area around the border with Georgia was very tense.  There were Russian tanks along the main road to the Caucasus mountains to protect the border and to stop refugees from the Abkhazia/Georgia conflict from coming into Russia.  But many were seen walking into Sochi with all the worldly goods that they could carry.  When they needed money for food they would set up little stalls along the roadside and sell their china, clothes or any household goods they could spare.  It was very sad to watch.

In the town these refugees were not the only people struggling for survival.  The value of the ruble had been fluctuating wildly for years.  In Soviet times, the value of the currency could change overnight as a result of government edict as was the case in 1947 and 1961, when citizens woke to find that new rubles would replace old at a rate of 1 to 10, effective immediately! During the last days of Soviet rule and immediately after, the ruble suffered from severe inflation and people’s life savings and pensions were now almost worthless.  In 1988, hundred-ruble notes were a rare sight. But by the mid-1990s, they were only worth a few pennies and the Kopek disappeared from circulation for a while. In 1996, the ruble began to stabilize, and in 1997, the Russian government unveiled a four-year-long switchover to the new deflated currency.    New Ruble notes were introduced in January 1998.  They looked like the old ones, but with three zeroes gone! Five-thousand ruble notes became five-ruble notes. One-thousand ruble notes were replaced by ruble coins and smaller denominations were issued as kopeck coins.  By 2002 the fifty ruble note shown here was worth just £1.

50 rubles, about £1 in 2002

50 rubles, about £1 in 2002

In the absence of a welfare state this hit the older generation hardest.  Those with families could survive, but those without were often destitute and reduced to selling all they owned.  When all their possessions were gone they lived on their wits.

I met an old man in one of Sochi’s beautiful parks.  He had gathered stones around him and was painting scenes on them.  They were exquisite.  He was obviously a very talented artist.  He was selling his painted stones for a few Kopeks.  I would have given him a lot more but he was a proud man so I just bought 3 for what he asked.  I have treasured these stones ever since.  старик means ‘old man’ in Russian and is pronounced (stah-REEK)

Cтарик on the streets

Scrapes a living by painting

And the stones cry out

I keep these painted stones in my glass cabinet with some very treasured small pebbles from a beach in Spain. On a whim I gathered up these pebbles from the spot where my dad had stood gazing out to sea.  I took a photo of him too as he was so lost in his own thoughts that I wondered what he was dreaming of.  Unbeknown to me, this was to be his last holiday, so those pebbles hold wonderful memories.  I literally treasure the ground he walked on.

I gathered the stones

From the beach where you walked, to

The back of beyond

 

6 thoughts on “Small Stones ~ The stones cry out. . .

    • Indeed, where there is a will and a talent creativity will out! Think of the earliest cave paintings or the Polish prisoners in the salt mines who carved exquisite chapels underground. The human spirit is at its best when being creative maybe?

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