The location is the beach at Petoskey State Park, a place on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan called “Little Traverse Bay.”
I started out by looking for Petoskey Stones, pieces of ancient fossilized coral that the lake surf has polished into smooth stones. The hexagonal pattern of the corals is most prominent on the Petoskey stones when they are wet, so it’s easier to spot them when the stones are slightly submerged along the edge of the water.
Soon, I found myself picking up *all* the pretty rocks I could carry (not very many) and started making patterns in the sand.
I vaguely remembered a story about a child finding beautiful shimmering rocks on a trip to the beach. They were so irresistible that she brought pocketfuls to take home with her. However, when she got home, she cried because when the stones were dry, they appeared dull and dingy, with all the beautiful colors gone. (I can’t seem to find a citation for this. Has anyone else heard this story?)
Maybe other people would add onto the mandala I started. Or be inspired to make some of their own, Either way, there was a certain beauty in the temporary nature of rocks arranged on a shifting, sandy beach. It made me happy that the rocks would stay at the shore and eventually be tumbled back by the waves of the lake.
Edit: Atlas Obscura, one of my favorites, featured one of my photos of the Lake Michigan beach in their article about Petoskey State Park!