Mums and I discovered the most exquisite treasure!

We received this Facebook message from my sister, Liz, saying: “Look at this post. It says that a beautifully painted rock is in a ‘little coffee shop in York Street, George.’ 

You’re there! Please find it. It is just stunning!”

I looked at the picture and said: “Mums, that’s Beans About Coffee, I am sure of it. In fact, I often sit facing the ledge the rock is placed upon. Come on, let’s go and see if I’m right.”

We walked into Beans About Coffee and I instantly looked at the ledge where I thought the rock would be lying. It was completely barren and bare. 

“Can I help you”, Leese, my friend at the till asked.

A little sheepishly, I said: “Hi there, Leese, I am looking for a painted rock. I thought it would be sitting on this wooden shelf, but I was wrong.” 

My mother was not prepared to leave it there and bought out her iPad: “See, it looks like this. And it appeared as if it was sitting just there. Have you seen it anywhere in the coffee shop?”

Leese smiled and said: “I wondered what that stone was doing perched on the parapet. I don’t know who placed it there. Obviously it was waiting for the two of you,” she laughed as she reached under the counter and produced our purple flowered stone. She placed it into Mums’ cupped hands and we both marvelled at it’s artistic delicacy and finesse.

“This calls for two cafe lattes, please, Leese?” I said as Mums and I collapsed with relief at the nearest table. 

We studied the rock carefully. The decoration was stunning. It had purple flowers interspersed  with wonderfully painted dots. The dots varied in colours from yellow, green, mauve and pink.

On the back was written: # SVP Cape Town Rocks, Keep or Re-Hide.

It had a blue FB sign and next to it was written: Post a picture of it on FB.

We phoned Liz and told her. She was totally delighted.

“I am a member of Cape Town Rocks and that’s how I got to know about the rock hidden in George. Take a picture of you both with the rock and I will post it on Facebook.” 

We were so thrilled we had found this beautifully painted rock.

“It says on the rock: ‘keep or re-hide.’ Gaynor, I would really love to keep it. It will look magnificent at my 80 birthday party.”

“You keep it, Mums. It can be your 80th Birthday Rock!”

For the last couple of years, Liz has been painting stones. She ambles along beaches collecting pebbles of every kind. 

“The kids have got a school fete coming up. I have some free time and I thought I would see if I could create little rock animals they could sell.”

I marvelled at my my sister’s creativity. Big eyed hedgehogs and droopy eyed owls, busy bees and ladybirds, yellow faced stones with goofy grins and red faced stones with yellow noses and ebullient smiles. To this non painter, I thought they were magnificent. Other people did too. Her painted creations sold like hot cakes. 

Liz had told me that she was a member of Cape Town Rocks. Intrigued I ‘Googled’ them. What a delight awaited me. Their goal is to encourage creativity, being outdoors and community involvement. How many times, has my heart sunk at the sight of five friends clustered around an outdoor restaurant table with their heads buried in iPhones or iPads. Forget about conversation, laughter and enjoyment of each other. The media held far more relish and pleasure for them. Now here was an organisation that encouraged people to get outdoors, search for ‘treasures’ and on finding them, indulge in a glorious hiding spree. They also stressed the importance of tidying up the places where the rocks were hidden or found!

Cape Town Rocks was started by Barbara van Rijsewijk. At the beginning of 2017, she was preparing for the 100 Day Project which is a yearly creative project based in New Zealand. She thought that she would paint mandalas on rocks and that she would practice first. The practice rocks piled up and she discussed with her sister what to do with them. They decided to leave the painted pebbles in public places for people to discover by chance. They could then keep them or re-hide them. Surprisingly they discovered that rock painting and hiding was already happening in America and Australia. South Africa didn’t seem to have a site and that was how Cape Town Rocks was born.

I studied the back of our exquisitely painted jewel. At the top was written #SVP. Was that the name of the painter of our rock, I wondered. I discovered the answer on Cape Town Rocks. SVP was actually the name of Susan van Pletsen. 

Susan did matric art. Then she attended a few night school lessons. It wasn’t the painting that drew her but her delicious boyfriend who attended the same classes. All worked out well. Her art improved and the boyfriend became her husband! She was overjoyed when the Cape Town Rock group popped up on her Facebook feed in 2017.

“I love painting rocks, I find it a kind of meditation. I adore the joy the rock gives to a complete stranger. I always hope the rock is found at a time when the finder needs some happiness. The kind of rock that your mother and yourself found certainly ended up giving great happiness!”

Susan created this utter gem. I wondered whether she planned her painted rock on paper first? Susan laughed at my idea.

“No, there was no planning at all. I just started with a few flowers randomly painted on your rock and the rest flowed from there. It takes me about a week to paint an intricate rock, the size you and your mother found. This is mainly allowing for the paint to dry so that I don’t smudge it.”  

I just adore the creativity that goes into rock painting. My sister, Liz, came up to George for two weeks before my Mums’ 80th birthday party. Every day she worked on this pile of pebbles that she had collected on the beach. She used the images that Barbara van Rijsewijk has used on Cape Town Rocks. Painstakingly Liz copied the patterns and beautiful designs onto sixty of her beach pebbles. On the back of each stone she inscribed short, meaningful sayings. They were totally delightful! Next to each of the sixty place settings at Mums’ 80th birthday party, a painted stone was placed. People were able to take them home as a momento of her wondrous occasion. 

It was a marvel finding that beautiful gem of a rock painted by Susan van Pletsen. It formed the centrepiece of Mums’ 80th birthday party display. This was surrounded by Liz’s rocks. And Susan, I am afraid Mums is not giving her 80th birthday rock away. It means too much to her! 

Susan, Barbara and Liz formed a large part of the happiness that engulfed Mums on her 80th birthday. I am so tremendously admiring of such creativity. And I love the ‘giving’ that lies behind it. Creation and giving equals love. 
I thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for the love you so freely gave away.

Speaking of ‘giving away’, I am going to take one of Liz’s beautifully painted pebbles and hide it. I don’t know where yet…….