Picture a gigantic field.
Hold the image steady in your mind for a moment. Got it?
Now, fill that field with immense rocks.
Boulders, really. Boulders
wearing thin, grey coats. Imagine those
coats are second-hand; worn away in spots.
See the white and the pink and the flecks beneath.
Now, shove all the trees in your mind to the perimeter of
Place a handful of people in that field of stone.
Hand each of them a hammer.
Have them strike at a rock.
Sandstone, of course, will be reduced, bit by bit, to
Slate will be fractured into smaller pieces, yet still be recognizable
A lucky stone, that hard white rock my sisters and I used to
hold into the palm of our hands to bring us good fortune, will withstand the
blow, perhaps even returning it, sending it back down your hammer and into your
But strike a rock in this field you’ve planted in your mind,
and you just may be rewarded with a pleasant ringing sound. If the rock is live.
Dead rocks don’t ring, of course.
This field of rocks does exist outside of your mind. And it is here that we venture this day.
We go from rock to rock, tapping here and there, prospectors
looking for the perfect rock; the perfect sound, following the map left by
previous visitors—the scarred and pocked faces of the rock where thousands of
hammers have previously struck.
I take some pictures and a video then settle in to
watch. Over there, someone has scratched
his name in the side of the rock, wanting to claim it, perhaps, or to leave
something of permanence behind. A girl
in a Nags Head tee shirt straddles a rock.
Asks her mother, “wouldn’t it be cool if I discovered gold and silver?”
Squints wanders away, walking to the edge of the field where
the trees begin. He leaps from rock to
rock swinging his hammer at his side then disappears from view.
Someone has brought the family dog. He struggles along from rock to rock, whining
until the father picks him up and carries him.
Behind us, a man tells someone that if he had two hours, he
could find tucked among those rocks, each of the notes that comprise our
musical scale. The rocks can be used to
play music. Indeed, they have.
A girl balances barefoot on a rock, dialing her
cell phone. “Will you follow me on
Twitter? Because I just got an account
and I don’t have any followers.” She
nods and breaks the connection and smiles.
“He’s going to follow me,” she says.
Her sister laughs and her mother smiles and studies her fingernails.
Squints returns and we head back to the path: We want to see
Here on the path, the trees gather in close, ushering us
down the hill into the cool darkness. A
ten foot rock is painted with the word Panama in blues and reds and white and
it’s strange, jarring, almost, to see graffiti this removed from the city.
A family approaches, returning from the waterfall. “It’s all dried up,” someone tells
We press on and see that they are right: Only a trickle of water falls down the side
of the thirty-foot cliff.
We climb down
into the dry creek bed. Withered leaves
crunch beneath our feet. Here and there
are tiny pools of water, brimming with life.
Water skimmers inch along the still surface. Frogs dive in at our approach, holding
themselves perfectly still against the rock background.
Moss crawls across the cracks in the face of a rock. A bird shadow glides along the smooth surface
of stone. The roots of gnarled trees
grasp at the sandy soil, carpeted by a thick layer of green moss.
And I realize that, when the music has ended, when the last
Tweet ever has been sent, this will all still be here: the ancient creek bed; the
waterfall; the gigantic field of rock.
We return to the car refreshed and content.
We drive home in silence.
For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Carrie gave me this prompt: You stumble across this little critter (https://plus.google.com/106223965383290201748/posts/VdrMbiRqNVr ) and he has an important message for you. What is it?.
I gave Michael this prompt: The road construction was making it impossible to leave the city.