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.