Sunday, September 16, 2012

I am Hewn out of Stone

I read a book about the geology along the Pioneer Trail. "Hard Road West".  "Rock--naked broken, mountainous rock--is the West.  Water is sparse in much of the West.  Soils are thin, plants are few.  Rock rises to view with rare clarity, revealing its intricacy and structure."  (Meldahl, Keith Heyer)

I have had the thought for some time, that I am hewn out of stone.  I have on my desk at work a picture of the Tetons.  It was in my father's trunk, which I inherited when he passed away.  In this picture, the jagged rock of the Grand Teton Peek is intermingled with the snowy glaciers.  The clouds float overhead.  The Tetons were a special place to our family growing up.  We use to go to Jenny's Lake.  My great grandfather was an early settler of the Teton Basin, the back side of the Tetons.  And so to our family, the Tetons were a mystical, magical place.  A place where we were firmly planted.

Growing up in Cache Valley, I could always look to the mountains, the rock cliffs.  We would tell the seasons by the view of the snow on the mountain.  When you could see the woodpecker, left in the pattern of the snow against the mountain face, it meant spring had finally arrived.

Living in the Basin there were rocks.  I use to stop at someone's home in Gusher, and see the mushroom rock.   It was a small version of something you might see in Bryce Canon, in the shape of a mushroom.  It was in a pasture.  I don't know if it still stands,  but I visited it many times on the trip between Roosevelt and Vernal.

Outside Vernal is Dry Fork Canyon, with its sheer cliff wall across from the park where someone painted a flag with the words "Remember the Main".  And close by are houses built, it seemed, into the cliff.  Those are rocks that are firm, immovable. Rocks that created a sense of foundation.

And when you drive in the high Uintahs, above the timberline, all that is left are rocks, sharp, jagged, monolithic rocks--incredible.

In coming to California, the first thing you see are the magnificent granite monoliths.  Rocks and cliffs larger than anywhere else in the world.  Yosemite makes its living on these rocks, and the waterfalls that flow from them.

Still nothing gives me as much joy, as climbing to the top of a boulder, standing on top in a conquering way.  Living in the Bay Area, we can look and see the mountains, and if you drive up to them, you can find large rocks, Goat Rock and Castle Rock.  On a Saturday there are any number of rock climbers on the face of these large rocks.  But they are not planting rocks.  They are rocks you have to look for. They are not rocks you can look towards, and see on a daily basis.  Here from where I work, you can look to the mountains, and see the Lick Observatory and hill; but no, they are not the strong foundational core rock.

Traveling in the train I see Mount Diablo, and the North Peak.    Oak covered peaks, but still I am unable to see the strong rocks and cliffs.

And so I have been looking.  Sometimes I brought rocks home from work when I could.  Some rocks I have hauled from Utah, and put in front of the house.  I miss the rocks we have left at former residences.  They were my friends.  But even so, the small rocks I place around the house are not planting rocks;  rocks where you can plant your soul.  I have rocks displayed in our living room.  But I seek large rocks, that I can climb and conquer.   I would love to have such a rock someplace on our property.

I am hewn from stone, and I am looking for that solid foundation.

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