Fierce Sanity in a Stone

I’ve done a lot of trail (and some beach) walking this summer, too much to record while it was ongoing. This fall and winter I hope to publish some of the photos here, organising them — instead of by location or chronology, as I have done previously — by natural element, and perhaps also by pattern, and maybe by idea. I haven’t chosen or discovered all the elements, patterns, and ideas yet; elements may include trees, leaves, roots, “weeds,” water, light, fungi and lichen, paths, mosses, ferns, insects and spiders, other animals; patterns may include spirals, spires, circles, trios, striation, spots and stripes, symmetry, meandering, chaos; ideas like damage, green, underfoot, hidden, longing, mystery, familiars, “the thing with feathers” ….

When I walk, I pay particular attention to what we call weeds, those unloved plants that grow and spread where we don’t plant them, because I notice that the weeds found regionally along woodsy paths and in fields and meadows are often also found in my yard. If I can identify them along trails — by leaf, flower, berry, growing habit, habitat, soil — I can then know who they are, and why they flourish, when I find them in my lawn, vegetable garden, and rock wall, or along the house foundation, among the ferns, in the open soil spots of my garden. That’s the utilitarian reason; another reason I look for weeds is simply to know who my neighbours are. As Annette LeBlanc Cate suggests (and asks), “Really get to know your familiar places, your own yard, your own street. Do you know what wildflowers grow?”

But for today, let’s look at rocks. Boulders, stones, stone walls, ledges, crags, pebbles … rocks. These rocks were seen mainly on walks in New Hampshire and Maine, and a couple reside in my own garden.

“Rilke recommended that when life became turbulent and troublesome, it was wise to stay close to one simple thing in nature. A friend of mine who had great trouble with her mind told me once that she had brought a stone into her apartment, and when she felt her mind going, she would concentrate on the stone. She said, ‘There is a fierce sanity in stone.'” ~ John O’Donohue from To bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

brook with green rocks, 14 Sept 2014
brook with green rocks, 14 Sept 2014
hilltop ledge with cairn, 24 Aug 2014
hilltop ledge with cairn, 24 Aug 2014
Amanita (maybe flavoconia) fungi by rock, 14 Sept 2014
Amanita (maybe flavoconia) fungi by rock, 14 Sept 2014
pink granite, 14 Sept 2014
pink granite, 14 Sept 2014
trail with roots and rocks, 24 Aug 2014
trail with roots and rocks, 24 Aug 2014
partly covered boulder, 13 Oct 2014
partly covered boulder, 13 Oct 2014
'Summer Pastels' yarrow on stones 8 Aug 2014
‘Summer Pastels’ yarrow on stones 8 Aug 2014
rocks along brook in woods, 7 Sept 2014
boulders along brook in woods, 7 Sept 2014
scat at rock, 16 Aug 2014
scat at rock, 16 Aug 2014
Bowman's root, ladys mantle, ferns in rock wall, 14 June 2014
Bowman’s root, ladys mantle, ferns in rock wall, 14 June 2014
Dibaeis baeomyces lichenized fungi on rock, 23 Aug 2014014
Dibaeis baeomyces lichenized fungi on rock, 23 Aug 2014
stone wall, 17 Aug 2014
stone wall, 17 Aug 2014
red leaf in lake shallows with stones, 5 Aug 2014
red leaf in lake shallows with stones, 5 Aug 2014
cascading water over ledge, 14 Sept 2014
cascading water over ledge, 14 Sept 2014
three black stones and part of a whelk, 6 June 2014
three black stones and part of a whelk, 6 June 2014
sparrow on the move on rock, 15 July 2014
sparrow on the move on rock, 15 July 2014
quarts with lichen, 14 Sept 2014
quarts with lichen, 14 Sept 2014
rock with mosses, lichen, ferns, roots, leaves, 13 Oct 2014
rock with mosses, lichen, ferns, roots, leaves, 13 Oct 2014

 

Believe one who knows: you will find something greater in woods than in books.  Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.  — Saint Bernard de Clairvaux

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