The Lake Ontario Log newsletter

Lucky Lake Stones

Almost every culture has some form of lucky charm or keepsake for good fortune. Whether its four leaf clovers, number seven, horseshoes, a rabbits foot, turkey wishbones or something more obscure, most people at one time or another have probably leaned on a lucky charm. On the south shore of Lake Ontario we even have our very own regional good luck token, lucky rocks.

Not just any old rock is lucky, though. It has to be a black rock with a narrow white ring around it. The band must be complete and continuous with no breaks .If it is, that stone is considered lucky. I have no idea where this notion of lucky lake stones comes from but it is fairly widely held among the population of the stretch of lakeshore that I've been canvassing lately. This "tradition" was passed on to me from my folks during our swimming expeditions to the beach. My husband was also familiar with it, presumably from his own visits to the lakeshore as a child.

The idea of lucky stones is certainly not confined to Lake Ontario. I have heard of white pebbles being thought lucky and on Cayuga Lake finding a small beach stone with a hole all the way through it is a token of good things to come. But this is the only area I know where black rocks with white rings are lucky. The sacred circle has special and often mystical powers through the ages and through many cultures. Magic rings that render the bearer powerful or invisible are firmly entrenched in Celtic myth and fable and the infinite no end no beginning of that encircling band of white is probably what makes a black beach pebble special. Cycles of renewal and destruction, reincarnation and transformation. Zero and infinity, it's all there within that band of white. I haven't heard of white stones with black rings being unlucky though, nor of any other combination of contrasting colors being lucky. Only this one pattern of black and white, opposites, negatives and positives, yin and yang, seems to be of significance. When I was younger I wasn't much of a believer in luck. Superior smarts, good connections, hard work, all that might make a difference but plain dumb luck? Nah, didn't work for a type A control freak. But now that I'm older, if not wiser, I'm not so smug about this luck thing. Seems like everybody could use some luck so I almost always search at least briefly for a good lucky pocket stone to take with me when I visit the lake. Besides, the symmetry and patterns of these black and white stones are just plain pleasing. Even if they aren't lucky they do look neat with that snow white stripe on an ebony background.

So to find a really good lucky rock, one guaranteed to make your stock portfolio soar and to bestow ample blessings upon your next visit to the Turning Stone Casino or the local bingo game, here's what you want to search for. First of all, it go to a pebbly beach on the south shore of Lake Ontario. You won't find lucky rocks at the sandy coast of the eastern shore, and you won't find them on the Canadian beaches or on the coves and headlands up around Sackets and Chaumont. You won't find them on theSt Lawrence, or at the Finger Lakes either. Has to be the south shore of Lake Ontario.There alone can you discover your own lucky rock. Chimney Bluffs state park, the west bar at Port Bay, or the pebbly beaches of Fair Haven are generally fertile hunting grounds.

Search for a nice dark rock with good contrast between its background black and the white band. Turn it over and examine it thoroughly, for the band must be complete, a truly continuous circle. As for the size of the rock, I guess that depends on the application. A pocket rock is a lot smaller than a house rock, one that you might prop a door open with. And a paper weight/desk rock can be somewhere in between. Size is not proportional to luck. But the fineness of the rock's form is. The darker the back ground and the sharper the line producing a bold dramatic contrast, now that's a premium lucky rock.

Pick a day of good light, sunny or of light overcast to go to the beach If at all possible find a stretch little frequented by others. Then you can wander undisturbed during your search . Look frequently out over the lake's expanses in order to rest your eyes from your search. If it's spring perhaps you'll see a mirage as I did last May when I watched the cement boat leave Oswego, accompanied by an inverted image above him. Or look up on an April day and you might see a boil of hundreds of migrating hawks and buzzards- or maybe even a bald eagle working along the shore.look back out over the lake to catch the swift flight of a merganser skimming its surface or perhaps to hear the cry of a migrating loon as she seeks her mate nearby. Gaze at your feet and seek a perfect flat smooth edged skipping stone and give it a fling. Or if it's sunny pause to consider the amazing play of color within the waters of the big lake, jade green, pale blue, sapphire blue on the horizon, graded and blended by a master water color artist.

As you seek the perfect stone, you'll probably hear the gentle wash of the waves at the beach's edge. Or if it's a day of wind and waves, perhaps the surf will crash with a thud a few feet away and then withdraw with a snarl of grinding cobbles in its backwash. Check out the bluffs if your walking such a stretch of shore. That's the source of your rocks- how , you wonder, did they come to be stuck within that matrix of clay and sand and stone? Where do these black rocks come from anyway and how were they formed? Are they dolomite from the south? slate or shale? Or some other type of rock?

Your search for a lucky rock has been successful even if you go home empty handed if some of the beauty and grandeur of that ever constant yet changing land and lakescape seeps into your soul and leaves you with that small still pool of peace that so often comes from walking an empty beach by the water.

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