Louise “Gramma Moon”

Louise “Gramma Moon” enjoys painting her iconic rocks and hiding them throughout the city of Port St. Lucie. JOHN BIONDO


The latest craze in Port St. Lucie is a hide-and-seek hunt for one of the most mundane items on the planet — rocks. But these are not ordinary rocks and unlike the static pet rock fad of 1975, creative expression is motivating residents of all ages to become rock hounds who decorate and hide their petite artworks, then find the tokens of others thanks to a Facebook group that to date has more than 17,000 members.

With similar numbers skyrocketing along the Treasure Coast, there is one Port St. Lucie resident whose followers are rocked out of this world at how she’s rockin’ the city.

Louise Moon, aka “Gramma Moon”, is a widow who moved to the city in November to be closer to family members. “I was the youngest of five children; my only living sister passed away this summer — I am the only one left.”

Moon took up rock painting to occupy her time on the encouragement of her granddaughter, Sheila Young. “She’s my caregiver,” Moon says, And yes, that really is her surname. “I’ve met others with the same last name, but we’re not related. It has Native American roots.”

Painted rocks have a long history in ethnography going back to aboriginal drawings on natural stone surfaces, but this modern day activity is part scavenger hunt, part art project and mainly pay-it-forward acts of kindness.

“When I got here, I became familiarized with the city,” she says. “My daughter and granddaughter showed me around the area. In February, she began painting rocks and immediately decided on a Gramma Moon rock. She uses pebbles that are mostly smooth in a variety of shapes and sizes, using acrylic paint. “Purple is my color,” Moon says. She has become well-known for her signature half-moon. “That’s all I paint.”

Surprisingly, her new pastime has produced health benefits and boosted her confidence. Having depended on a walker to get around, the motivation to get out and walk gave her the strength to switch to a cane. Finding hidden rocks offers her greater mobility and, overall, a more positive outlook on life.

“It’s more fun to walk looking for rocks and you don’t realize you’re getting exercise,” she comments.

The rock movement started with a Facebook group launched by 26-year-old Aisha Lesh in January 2016 in Port Angeles, Wash. “This is so cool!” Lesh wrote in a FB post. “Kindness Rocks was first but there are so many different beginnings. Our community definitely made a wave. Thanks for noticing us!”

half-moon painted rock

Her signature half-moon painted rock rests in a tree, waiting to be found. The public can join the group PSL Rocks on Facebook to participate in the fun.

In March, the city partnered with the PSL Rocks Facebook group at a St. Patrick’s Day paint-out event where 20 prize rocks with “PSL Rocks the City” on the bottom were hidden in city parks — only nine have been found. Prizes are still being offered. Found rocks can be placed in orange buckets at the civic center, community center, city hall and Minsky Gym and will become part of an art installation at a later date.

In June, the rockers gave Moon a surprise 85th birthday party at Whispering Pines Park with the goal of gifting her 85 rocks. Because of her popularity as Gramma Moon, more than 100 people attended and she went home with 127 rocks. Altogether, Moon has nearly 150 that are favorite finds, including the gifted rocks that she will keep.

These days, Moon says she paints daily; she has people requesting rocks, especially from restaurants who want to give them to children. There is no fee or payment for these mini-canvases: They are labors of love to the community.

Young children are fascinated by her. About a month before her birthday, a young boy became a fan after seeing FB postings of her art and when they met at Veterans Memorial Park while scouting for hidden rocks, Ayden Basing, 12, told Moon, “I want to carry on your legacy.”

During a presentation at a vacation Bible school in July, another young boy saw her rock collection and asked her for a photocopy of her half-moon design, returning later with his drawn tribute to the rock lady.

Anyone wishing to participate is asked to follow a few simple guidelines: Be considerate of property and don’t hide rocks in grass where lawnmowers could run over them. Also, be mindful of leaving painted rocks in environmentally sensitive areas — it’s considered littering. Leave no trace ethics are advised whether along the beaches or in wooded areas. The paints and lacquers on them can be toxic to soils, waterways and wildlife.

For more information, visit www.cityofpsl.com/pslrocks


Age: 85
Lives in: Port St. Lucie
Occupation: retired bank teller
Family: granddaughter, Sheila Young; great-grandson, Brady, 7
Hobbies: rock painting; used to be a pretty good bowler
Who/what inspires me: “The Lord; he’s my rock and I put all my trust in him.”
Something most people don’t know about me: “I’ve lived here less than a year and nearly the whole town knows me.”