By Catherine Twing, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – If you’ve seen a collection of colorfully painted rocks on the Assabet River Rail Trail in Marlborough recently, chances are they were placed there by the Dalbec family.
While at the family’s second home in New Hampshire several weeks ago, Julie Dalbec and her daughter Samantha began collecting rocks from a nearby riverbed. To pass time they began painting the rocks.
“I like that I can really express myself when I’m painting rocks. I kind of just let my hand go and I like to see where it takes me,” the Whitcomb Middle School fifth grader said.
They painted flowers, sun and moon, their house, sunsets, words like “hope” and more.
“Samantha mastered the art of drawing the coronavirus itself so she made one with the virus that says ‘It’s corona time,’” Dalbec laughed.
They thought about leaving the painted rocks at neighbors’ homes or giving them as gifts, but Samantha had the idea to put them on the rail trail for more people to see.
They placed the rocks on a bench at the entrance to the rail trail near Hudson St. in Marlborough with a sign that said “Covid-19 Courage Rocks.”
The next day someone had laid the rocks out into a mandala, and some rocks had been placed along the rail trail, Dalbec said. The intention was for the rocks to stay on the rail trail and be added to as a community art project, but they suspect some people misunderstood the purpose.
“A few days later, half were gone. There’s need to touch it, just add to it,” she said.
Samantha had mentioned the project to her art teacher, Robea Nordman, who liked the idea and shared on social media and with friends.
“Everyone in the world is a part of what is going on right now,” Nordman said. “Sami is finding a way to shed some light on us all. Art is a powerful tool, and there is no better time than now to embrace it and really appreciate it.”
Dalbec admitted that they’re a little behind on making more painted rocks since they have been unable to travel to New Hampshire for several weeks, but will continue to find more rocks in Marlborough to paint.
“Everyone has a rock in their back yard or can find one on the rail trail, and it seems most people have paint at home,” she said. “It would be great if we were overrun with painted rocks.”
Anyone interested in contributing can drop off a painted rock on the rail trail, or place them around the neighborhood to brighten the day of others.
“I believe that everyone should try to paint a rock because they can express their emotions,” Samantha said. “It makes me happy, so I think it could make other people happy!”