Making runes takes time and careful consideration. The first decision is what material to use as a base. Wood is light, and can be carved and polished. The rune symbols can be painted, carved, or burned into the wood. Stone is a heavier material. Unless the stone is ground down and polished, the biggest challenge is in selecting the stones themselves. I prefer to search out the stones myself rather than purchasing them.

When selecting the stones, the surface should be flat enough to paint the symbols on. All the stones should be roughly the same size. Small differences in color and texture adds to the uniqueness of a collection.

Laura climbed out of her car and called to Tom who was on the front porch. He waved and went inside to get his keys and kiss the girls goodbye. Tom’s wife had died a year ago, after a long battle with cancer. Laura was glad she was able to help with the kids, and regretted knowing she’d be leaving at the end of the summer.

As soon as her dad left, Julie ran to Laura, leaping up into her arms. Danny was brushing her doll’s hair in the corner. At ten, Danny was fast approaching the confusion of adolescence. She loved her dad immensely but felt uncertain of how to be with him, through the changes she would soon be experiences. She liked Laura, but held herself back, afraid to get attached.

All the stones should be washed and set out to dry. It is best to collect ten or so more rocks than you plan on using. Rocks have a habit of changing once you get them home, and you’ll probably decide against some you had originally chosen.

The garden behind the children’s house was wild and overgrown. Nobody had touched it since their mother died. New plants struggled towards the light between thick dead branches. In April, when the air started warming steadily, Laura began tackling the garden. She started by pulling out the dead debris.

“What are you doing?” Julie had demanded, her hands on her six-year-old hips. Julie shrugged and ran away. Danny watched her from the swing-set, expressionless.

The next step is to select the ink or paint you will be using. Choose a thin paintbrush. Use a dark color, preferably black. Do not dilute the ink or paint. At this point you should have thought about which stone is best for what rune. Paint the rune on the stone clearly, large enough to easily read.
It was days before either of the girls would go near the garden. One day Laura brought some plants with her. Julie drifted over to where she was working, watching as she dug a place for them in the ground.

“Can I help you water?” Julie asked. Laura looked up and smiled. She helped Julie pull the hose around. After that Julie regularly watered. She began asking about each plant, the squash along the fence, the tomatoes, and three pepper plants. Flowers they soon planted along the back of the house.

When all the runes are painted, set them aside to dry. It is important that the paint or ink be fully dry before moving them. The symbol on the stone is as important as the stone itself and therefore care should be taken that it be clear and not smudge.

“You don’t even remember her!” Danny shouted, running into the house.

“Yes I do!” Wailed Julie, her eyes filling up with tears.

Laura gently pulled Julie onto her lap.

“Your mommy loved this garden very much, didn’t she?” Julie nodded her head.

“Let me tell you a little secret about your mommy’s love. Your mommy’s love is a forever love. It’s like the plants in this garden. Sometimes after a long winter it feels like all the plants are dead, there couldn’t possibly be life because we can’t see any under all the dead branches. But once we show the plants our love by tending to them and clearing away all the dead debris, then they start growing again. And the more we express our love for the plants by caring for them, the more they grow and flourish. It’s the same with mommy’s love. The more you love, the more you feel her love. But the most important thing to remember is that she always loves you, even when everything feels cold and frozen-her love is still here with you.”

When the runes are finished, I suggest finding a bag to store them in. A simple bag can be stitched from a heavy piece of cloth. A bag that can be tied at the top will keep the runes from falling out.

When Laura arrived that day the sky was clear and bright. Big white clouds hung delicately, like puffs of cotton. The girls were already in their bathing suits splashing in the pool outside. Laura quickly pulled the laundry off the line before it ended up completely wet again, and joined them. Julie, having tired of the pool was busy inspecting the garden.

“It’s ready! I know it’s ready!” She cried running to Laura and pulling her towards the vegetable patch. Laura knelt down and examined a solitary green pepper that appeared to have exploded over-night. When she knelt down, she could smell it. She showed Julie how to gently snap it off the plant, and brought it inside to wash, and slice.

When they came outside Danny was laying on her back in the grass, looking up at the sky. Julie pranced over to her in her excitement, waving a piece of pepper in her hand. Danny didn’t look up. Laura set down the rest of the pepper and lay down next to Danny without saying anything. After a moment Danny said

“Look! It’s a dragon!” She pointed out the dragon’s head and body, outlining it with her outstretched finger. Julie squatted down next to her sister, turning her head upside down to examine the sky.

“Hey!” She exclaimed, holding a piece of pepper up towards the cloud.

“Maybe he wants some pepper too!” Danny turned her head and through Julie the oldest ten-year-old glance she could muster. Laura held her breath, waiting for the fight that usually followed. Julie froze. Then she started to giggle. Danny looked at her sister, startled. Then she smiled.

“Give me that!” She yelled, snatching the piece of pepper from Julie’s hand. Julie gave a yelp and dashed off across the yard.

Hand made runes make a beautiful gift. The time and thought that you put in making them is always felt by the person who receives them. The process itself can become a meditation, and act of love.

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