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Listening, serendipity, and stone

September 19, 2010
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Yesterday I had the very fine opportunity to hear Dan Snow speak about his remarkable stone work at our rock garden society meeting. (Our group brings in excellent guests, no?) Moments into his talk, he expressed the connectivity between the work he does with his hands and his writing with the reminder of man’s earliest attempts to give representation to the world around them, perhaps first in clay, and later using words. From there it was easy to settle in and hear him wend the stories of his creations. For a taste, please read the dedication he gave to a dry stone sculpture of a reclining figure.

In it he wonders about the many acts of art taking place daily in the world, and that’s where serendipity comes in. Following the talk I had the very prosaic task of taking the vacuum cleaner to Sears for repair. Following the road around the mall on the way out, I spied 3 people building gravity-defying rock cairns! I had to stop and see what it was about.

Turns out this man, Rob, makes them every day, at least five. Balancing stones has become a spiritual practice, but at the heart of it is the love of turning on the happy light of discovery in others, as someone did for him. He showed me how to look for divots in a stone, even ones that seem improbably shallow, and a corresponding protuberance in another one that might fit. Simple friction acts like glue, looks like magic, and feels like glitter inside.

As we talked, he’d picked up a stone to demonstrate, and then said, “This one spoke to me; I have to get back at it.”

I made a few stacks, too. And came away light and grateful for the reminder to look for opportunities every day to make something sparkle, even when it seems heavy as stone.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 19, 2010 6:33 pm

    Very cool — and timely — encounter.

    Ever notice the cool cairn on the south side of Ellis Hollow down close to Dodge Rd., if I recall corretly.

    • September 22, 2010 8:12 am

      I always look at that place to see if they’ve added anything more, and that tall cairn seems to lean so improbably I’ve wondered if it’s supported. What I really appreciate is that they wrapped the lampposts with vines and twigs, making them much more interesting to me at least.

  2. September 19, 2010 7:46 pm

    It’s dark now, but I can’t wait to head out to the garden and try my hand at stacking some rocks. I don’t know how anyone can resist this temptation, but then I have a serious thing for stones. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • September 22, 2010 8:10 am

      How did they turn out? I thought of your place during his presentation. A garden needs good stones for its bones.

  3. September 22, 2010 6:37 am

    I’ve been noticing a lot of rock cairns recently, north of me as I head out of town for the weekend. I always wonder what the maker was thinking as they put them together, and they always make me smile.

  4. September 27, 2010 11:33 am

    I was sorry to miss his talk, but I was too soon back from an out-of-town trip.

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