What is the legend of the painted rocks?

Take the time to read the rocks in Seaside.

You know about the quick access to the beach, don’t you, the woman who used to live in this house said. She was checking up, I think, on her former front garden. A waggish friend told her we’d pulled up everything she planted and covered it over with cement. She seemed quite relieved to discover her friend was pulling her leg.

You mean that cut through I replied, referring to a graveled, poorly identified short stretch of road I’d discovered that was a shortcut to the beach.

The place with the painted rocks, she said. I nodded like I knew what she was talking about although I didn’t. She said something else about painting rocks not being strictly legal and how once they’re painted they’re considered trash, but almost as soon as she climbed into her truck and drove off, I went looking.

Since it is sort of a secret place, I’m not going to divulge the precise location of the painted rocks. There is a bench. It might be private property or at least private property adjacent. It lets out on to a very rocky part of the beach. The amazing part about this magical spot is that it’s been made magical by a the dozens of handpainted rocks humans have so carefully placed.

After my initial discovery, I returned again and again. Mostly I go in the mornings. Mostly I’m the only person there. Although the view is spectacular — a treacherous expanse of dark natural rock, the sea, and the sky — it’s the sounds that speak to me; the crashing surf, the bird cries. A few days ago I encountered another human, which was a bit of a surprise. He was a 30-something man, sitting on the bench. He was reading a novel. I was with my very young dog, Lucy, who was nose to ground. I thought I’d leave the man to it and come back another time. Then he looked up and said hi.

Hi, I said. Do you come here often? Even as the words were leaving my mouth, I felt silly, because they are such an obvious pick up line.

My wife and I are renting for the third year in a row a place just up the street, he said, waving his arm in a general southerly direction. I like to come here and sit and read while she’s out shopping or napping. It’s my tranquility place.

In the next few minutes he told me a bit about himself, how he would prefer to live at the beach, if he could only figure out a way to move his business from Seattle. I cautioned while it was very beautiful that day, winters could be tough at the beach. I said there’s lots of wind and rain.

There’s a lot of rain in Seattle, too, he said.

Since he’d been coming to this particular place a few years, I asked if he’d learned any lore about the painted rocks. He said he also was curious, but no one he’d met could tell him anything. Together we looked at a bunch of rocks, remarking on a color or a date or the words that had been written on it. One said “Suzanne.” Another said, “Life is Good.” Another said, “Road Trip 2017 L.A. to Seattle.”

At that point I said I’d better be going. There were more dogs to walk and stories to write and soon it would be time to make lunch. At home I did a little sleuthing on line. That’s how I learned my magic place is actually kind of famous. It’s called Painted Rock Beach. Tucked away as it may be, it is still a tourist attraction.

Luckily for me, the spot is still relatively undiscovered. If you go, leave a painted rock behind with your name and an inspirational quote, or perhaps just the date on it.