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
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