May 9, 2014 at 2:16 PM
Rocks are so stunningly aesthetic
Thor Sigstedt is an artist in wood, words, cameras, bronze, cast iron, glass, notes and steel; a homesteader from Spirit Valley specializing in forest diversity and “land ethics” and a dabbler in practical and non-practical non-zero new paradigm complexity in the multiverse.
As time passes and priorities and poetic and aesthetic values start to settle out into a sort of value hierarchy, a few things rise to the surface and stones are one of them. Rocks are so stunning aesthetically and as something to contemplate that I have often thought that if they were not quite so prevalent, then just any single stone, put into a museum; would be the most modern and fantastic looking sculpture there. I have collected rocks all of my life and now live along a creek with a bed of a wonderful and wide selection and collection of stones, giving a lifetime of pleasure to be a part of their world, so intimately involved in looking at them and working with them.
I recently carved a bathroom sink basin out of a plutonic rock from Spirit Valley; using diamond bits and blades and various hand and power tools to create a wonderful natural and functional piece. I have found an ancient stone hatchet, which is a veritable combination tool; a mono, a hammer, a weapon; and it fits like a glove inside your grip. Also I have found many arrow and spear heads and a broken metate that I found as I grabbed to use it as a shim for a concrete form only to notice that it was what it was. A few days ago I was hiking up a steep embankment, rather cliff face and was with five friends who were also on the “game/wildlife/deer” trail The going was difficult partly due to the steep incline and partly due to the ubiquitous sluffing-off sandstone in this area which created hazards because no hand or foot hold felt all that safe. We stopped on a possibly nondescript spot halfway up and I looked down and I noticed a beautiful reddish and tan, sort of oval and convex domed river rock sunken into the soil, and I immediately excavated few inches of soft earth around it with my hands to reveal the full dome of the stone. I lifted it up carefully only to discover that there was a healthy herd of ants, large and fast and sort of what I call “honey ants”, under it, so I let it back down, saying, “I love this unusual stone that, to me, obviously, was brought here and I will pick it up on the way back and take it home. My comrades, of course, heard me say this and we had a brief discussion about me doing that and the nature of the stone, being a beautiful “river rock”. We poked around the top of the ridge and what I found was an awesome, large, flat rectangular stone shelf on the top of the ridge furnished with a small sandstone wedge propped horizontal to create a small low bench and next to it a sort of domed table like stone that had cracked in half and had a few rocks on top of it and this stone had some very indistinct etching of initials on it. As we reached the mid point of our descent from this historic ridge, I heard two voices ahead of me simultaneously exclaim, “It’s a metate!” I walked down towards them and there they were holding “my stone” that I had vowed to pick up and carry back if we came that way, having turned it over now and, surely, it was a beautiful, obvious concave surface worn by many years of use and smooth and beautiful. I held it and someone said, “There should be a mono right here too” and so we glanced around and, sure enough, there was a beautiful mono in the midst of a number of similar sized stones on the slope at my feet. This was an amazing experience for all of us!
To cap this story off, there is another one wrapped into that day’s adventure: at the crest of this hill was a crag which had the distinct shape of an Indian’s head, we thought. This was our original goal to attain and so I and Alan headed right up to the top of it. The crag was narrow and not ample for walking around, but good enough to navigate carefully. I turned towards Alan just as he was leaping across an abyss/crevasse and I was so frightened by what I saw; his profound danger as he lept; that I called out to him, “Oh man, watch out”! He just made the leap and I was profoundly relieved as I was envisioning a disaster up there. I went around that spot, not daring to jump it myself and approached him as he was on his hands and knees looking at something. I came closer and he was just beginning to pick up turquoise stones. He explained that he jumped the crevasse and then, landing, he saw turquoise on the ground and was thinking, ‘Puebloans have been up here’. Then he realized they were the stones from his own turquoise necklace which must have burst open during his daring leap and fell to the ground in front of him. We talked as we picked them out of the prickly pear cactus and the little cracks and the soil and he talked about his Navajo old woman elder friend who had stated to him some years ago, when he was bemoaning having broken a turquoise jewelry piece, in her quiet older voice, hushed, “…oh no, it is good to have it break and to wear your turquoise because it is, as it breaks, saving you from some disaster or other!” We now understood that some powers may have been at work here, just as she had said. A little later Alan and I decided to go back up that crag for another excursion, by impulse, and I saw him bend down and pick up another piece of turquoise. It had fallen out of his pocket when he had descended earlier and would have been there for ages had we not had the impulse to go back up this round-about way! Hmmm…..
So I am hoping that these stone stories and their shadows and beauty and power will assist us in our search for meaning to our lives and as we sort out our priorities.