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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Half Full

At the beginning of the year, I wrote about a neighbor’s yard, and how the balanced stone towers he fashioned from the granite gathered from his soil, highlight the simple treasure our New England earth offers.  

Sunday he called us with an invitation to see his newest project, so my husband and I pulled on our boots and tramped through the woods behind the house.  We met him at the stone gate marking the entry to his property.

After we visited with his chickens and removed a warm egg from a roost; we wandered to a flat, grassy area, where he’d assembled his most recent creation.  Over the course of three weeks, he dug in over 1,100 small rocks flush to the ground, shaping a large circular labyrinth designed for walking and contemplation.  “You are meant to walk it slowly” he said, “so you can acknowledge each of the rocks.”  

My husband and I spend a lot of time in our own yard, “acknowledging rocks.”  Any time we dig we find them, rubble deposited by ten-thousand year old glaciers.  Even in existing gardens where we’ve sifted the earth for almost 20 years, winter frosts heave stones up from deep below—shifting them to places only dark loam existed before.  We root around with spades and hoes until we unearth the offending obstructions. We’ve used them to line gardens, where they’ve slowly sunk back into the ground, and they help during summer barbeques to hold paper tablecloths in place. For the most part though, we toss them into the woods.  

In our neighbor’s yard though, the stones we throw away are collected like bounty and composed with patience and thoughtfulness, and an introspection that results in elemental and evocative art.  

Our Sunday walk provided a lesson in perspective.  A rock is a rock is a rock.  Except when it’s not.

 My memory card was full on Sunday so I couldn't get a picture of the labyrinth.  Here is a picture of "Serendipity," I took on New Year's Day instead.


Yvonne Osborne said...

There's something about rocks. Even though we're always pick them up out of the gardens and fields and cursing our way through them, how do more keep coming to the surface? I like what your neighbor did.....acknowledging the rocks.
I'll remember that next time my rototiller catches one in the tines and comes to a rocking halt!

Anne Gallagher said...

I have a box of rocks I collected when I lived in Nevada. Some of them have turquoise or gold running through.

I have a box of rocks I collected from the beach, not to mention jars and jars of beach glass and shells.

I have a small mountain of rocks that the Monster has found in our yard and wants me to use in the garden. They're supposed to be white but the clay stains them red and no matter how hard I scrub they only turn slightly pink.

I used to have a dog named Fred who, if I threw a rock into the ocean, he would find it and return it to me. (And I know you know that the east coast beaches are littered with rocks) so that in his finding the rock that I threw was monumental.

As you can tell, I love rocks.

Bish Denham said...

I love rocks and LOVE cairns! I build them all the time. They are ephemeral, like sand castles, an art form as old as man-kind. Stonehenge is a kind of cairn. Smaller piles of rocks were used to mark trails.

We have rocks all over our house...my most precious is from Assisi, given to me by a friend who died recently when she visited the home of St. Francis.

Carol Kilgore said...

Maybe you can get a photo of the rock path another day. What is it here about writers and rocks? My favorite is blue with white specks about the size of a pencil eraser throughout. I found it in New Mexico.

Old Kitty said...

Your neighbours sound totally zen!! I wish all neighbours were so contemplative and profound as yours! Take care