Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Standing Stones

As I wait for my photos to load off my cell phone, I will try to jot down yesterday’s basic happenings. It began with the usual breakfast and photography class for Mark and his students, and me writing, etc. I did a bit of watercolor sketching and once class was dismissed for lunch we ate our sandwiches in the protective screened in porch off to the right of the lodge’s mountain view. The gnats and no-seeums have been brutal and we were offering no more blood to them.

After we had finished we were joined by a charming young lady who was the daughter of the inn owner. She is nine, blond, tall for her age, with legs as long as a new born colt, and wears braces on her teeth that once removed will reveal a gorgeous smile to go with her incredibly precocious personality. She is a very pretty girl now and looks like she will only improve with age. She had come down to where we were, armed with a ridiculously huge set of binoculars with intent to see a hawk that she had heard but couldn’t see. 

She stood at the edge of the deck and stood on her toes to see around the tree to the left and suddenly said “whoop!” and the binoculars fell out of her hands. A few long minutes later we hear the tell tale thump of a very heavy set of binoculars making contact with the ground way below. We all looked at each other and shared the uh-oh face of knowing those binoculars were toast. Undaunted by the thought of the condition of her dad’s binoculars after their recent fall through space, Sophie began her scramble down the steep overgrown hill to go get them, in her flip flops and shorts, sliding in the tall grasses. She stopped at some point and said emphatically that this was NOT her cup of tea, but onward she bravely scrambled. Eventually she reached the bottom and retrieved the battered binoculars and came up to join us in the screened area.

Rarely have I been around a young girl so comfortable with herself, full of drama, intelligent, witty, a budding beauty, and totally charming. We sat and she entertained us for quite a long while until someone came to tell her that her dad had gone to the house and she was to follow by foot up the hill to where they live. Reluctantly she did as she was told and we were left to figure the rest of the day.

Mark’s students decided they wanted more of Mark and so he was tied up with them leaving Tom, Ellen, and I a chance to right a wrong, well, perhaps not a wrong but we needed to go fix the temple. Last year we had discovered a long smooth pool at a park ground, Rattler Ford, covered with small ephemeral sculptures of stacked stones from the bottom of the smooth flowing water. It was a magic place and the beauty was mystical, and we had felt a reverence to the place, hence the temple description. We had spent a lot of time last year there enjoying the art of the mystery rock stackers and feeling the peace. This time we revisited and all of the stones were knocked down, no sculptures and no magic, and thus our mission was to recreate some of our own. So off we went down to the creek, leaving Mark to teach.

In about an hour wading in the knee deep chilly water the three of us had done a pretty good job of standing the stones back into precariously balanced sculptures and it was good to have the spirit of the place restored. We returned to the lodge and told of our efforts of the recreation at which some of the students were so excited that in the lingering light after dinner they ventured down the road to go see the pool and its stones and take some photos of them. For us, another rousing game of dominoes sealed off the evening. Tom did not win again. I did, but who’s counting.

This morning it was decided that the class would be a field trip to the pool of standing stones. I ventured into the water to make some more of the statues while some of the braver students wandered into the water to take some shots. The wading takes care not to trip and fall in and walking with a camera had its own risks, so several had walking sticks. It was not long before the sound of splashing water was heard as one lady was like a bull in a china store and repeatedly kept knocking the delicately balanced stones into the water. Of course she was quite sorry and made apology after apology as she swung her walking stick as she stooped to retrain the rocks to stand up, and knocked down more. It was comical to say the least.

There is such good energy to be absorbed by sitting by moving water, whether ocean or by a moving stream. I sat on the large rock for a while and listened to the cascades, and felt the power of the rock I sat on. How long ago was it atop a mountain, part of one, perhaps a huge one, now a mere several ton bench for us to sit on? How old were the granite stones that we had stacked, worn smooth by how many years of being whittled away, moved down the stream to lay where we now where? And how soon would they be tiny grains of sand? Lots to think about when you are in a peaceful place such as this. Finally the class had snapped until they could snap no more and it was time to head back to the lodge. 

I was returning to the large bench stone after wandering upstream, along the same path that we had all traveled several times while we were there, grabbing onto the small trees that line the banks for balance, when I noticed a shaft of sunlight now hitting a tree root to my left. I also noticed a small movement that went past my knee towards the root, then another movement behind my knee going the other direction. I turned at looked at the destination of the arrival and departure of the unidentified things that had passed so close to my legs, and saw the hole. Out came another thing and this time I could see what it was and it didn’t take me long to get the heck out of its fly zone. Yellow Jackets.

I let everyone still out on the rock where they were and all made an alternate route around the tree to the parking lot and we retreated, feeling quite lucky that for whatever reason we had not all been stung. I would really like to know what is the trigger that causes them to suddenly see you as a threat, and also what makes them simply fly by you with out doing so. Perhaps the sunlight hitting the nest woke them up and they had been sort of sleepy until warmed up. It absolutely got my heart rate up to target though to see them so close and be in their midst, again. Our plan now is an evening assault with a poison of some sort to pour down the hole once they have retired for the night. I might be sitting in the car, however, while the braver adventurers with grudges from the incident last year get revenge.  We shall see how that goes...



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