Rock Ethics #1

 
 
I love the ancient exposed smooth granite rocks of Waaseyaagami wiikwed (Georgian Bay). They go on forever in all directions. They go down into the water: a staircase of darker and darker aqua. There are a million square miles of them, yet every single square foot seems completely unique, remarkable, magical, perfect. (It's funny. I am thinking about Diane Borsato's amazing new book "Mushrooming: The Joy of the Quiet Hunt" where she says, correctly! that the practice of mushrooming is an exercise in "paying attention to the small and the ephemeral" (p. 10) and then she goes on to talk about how that skill, those practices, are fundamental to good art-making and a whole range of other practices like being better at picking up subtle social cues. Nothing could be less "small and ephemeral" than the rocks of the Canadian Shield, but they still manage to provoke a welcome dialing-down of my aperatures of attentiveness) 
 And more than just a perceptual gift: When I am luckyluckylucky to be there: seeing them, touching them, watching them, feeling them, listening to them, smelling them...The Truth that they are millions and millions of years old; that they have been there before I existed and will still be there after me and anyone I've ever known is gone.. and that those rocks will be as beautiful and timeless as ever, come what may... is a source of the most powerful grounding imaginable. My wish is that everyone in the whole world who needs grounding could feel that. Even a little of that.
 
 
Some people might think that because the rocks -- the 'landscape' -- are so old and seemingly impervious to human actions, that we can do whatever the fuck we want on and around them: that it just it doesn't matter. That nothing will change. The rocks will just continue to be rocks. They are 'just rocks'...silent as rocks and silent on the question of ethics.
 
I think that's the wrong conclusion to draw. At least, that's not what rises up in me. What rises up in me is exactly the opposite. Something like a natural, calm, deep and true command to respect and cherish and celebrate their ancient nature and their strength; to be so so so gentle and reverent with my body and my mind (and my wine glass!) in their presence. And, the sort of unspoken pact that, if that attitude or balance is struck, I might be able to draw strength and calm from them, to take with me in my heart and especially in my feet, when I have to be away from them. To remain grounded no matter how nutty the rest of every bit of life can get.
 
                                                                                                   That's what can happen on rocks. Just rocks.
 
 
I also love painting. Especially watercolour. My maternal grandmother, Jean Dufty, was a really good watercolour painter. And a farmer. I still have her 12-colour metal paintbox. There are no more paints in it, but I mix my colours in the little empty rounds. working on a series of four small paintings that, taken together, compose the view directly east across water from Pamela Bresnahan and Kit's cottage, a bit north of Parry Sound. Near Snug Harbour. My favourite place in the Universe (so far). Wanted to share them with you, on this snowy evening far from a swimmy summer. I did very fast, loose black lines on top of the pine trees... hoping that my hand wasn't too stiff: the trees are always in motion and wildly wind-positive.