Wednesday, December 10, 2008


It is long, too long, since I have done the simplest tasks for which the body is fitted, such as carrying stones. It is good, very good, to do things for which standard education is of no avail.

Building with stone for the first time meant hefting stones in a way I never had before. Most of my earlier stone hefting had been in preparation for throwing; the rest was just the unalloyed, aimless hefting that comprises most human/stone relations. Never had I sought to address stones in their individual natures.

I began to turn them over in their beds and behold their personalities from all angles, and saw the light that shines from a stone that has anything like the shape of that particular emptiness in the wall you're building, and how the stone that fits acquires a very valuable value and cannot easily be replaced.

The stone builder also learns what hands actually evolved for: not for derivative things like grasping handles, pounding keyboards, turning steering wheels or operating remote controls, but for holding stones! Hands evolved to lift, heft, and hurl stones (such hard, straight, primitive words those three, clearly made for use with stones). For of course man the word-user first 'lifted' stones, first 'hefted' stones and first 'hurled' stones. The palms are made to hold stones, and the fingers to adapt the grip to stone facets, in a way not necessary with a fruit or a club or a martini; there was need to be able to quickly pick up something heavy of non-repeating shape, what else fills the bill in every respect but a stone; thus the human hand evolved from mere treelimb-grasper into quick stone-grabber, which doesn't say much for the evolution of our disposition, but does explain the ongoing need for stone walls, and the basic and somehow surprisingly right-at-home feeling hands feel when holding a stone.

And stones for their part have much to say to us, in their own forthrightly reticent way, of time and purpose, of trust, constancy and patience. If one can fall sufficiently silent to hear them, they are well worth listening to.

Thus in a pleasant place on a pleasant day, it is pleasant indeed, particularly in retrospect, and more than fully organic, to have one's head filled with stones, that rattle around and crack open new thoughts, polish old attitudes to a new sheen and grind up fixed ideas into the wherewithal of germination.

The stones on my place (my land is a veritable stone mine) are mainly of the metamorphic type, born of fire and pressure and therefore oddly and stubbornly shaped, so for the most part I must use as-is what I pick and choose, a lot like being born has turned out to be.


Suzann said...

The grace and beauty of your writing touches me deeply. The light shines from you. Thank you for sharing your journey.

Bob Brady said...

Thank you, Suzann; you are too kind... it is a pleasure to share.