the music and poetry of rock piles.

My mind keeps turning over rock and dirt.  Tumbling and polishing words (though imperfectly) in failed attempts to connect the dots between movement, the call of the (yes, I'm gonna say it) wild and the allure of, if not solitude, then at least remove from the cacophony of the trappings of our modern day.

To eyes grown accustomed to the rows, compartments, parking spaces of civilization, there is madness in the backcountry.  Hithers and thithers fail to make apparent THE way to go...as if there always must be A way to go.  Even the can't-miss-it guide of well worn singletrack must seem a deception to the uninitiated in its determination to round all bends and dance dizzying zigzags when straighter routes seem available.  Not just imagination but also experience is required to see "lines" whether it's trail to be run or rock to be climbed though those most gifted with creativity or blessed with time spent exploring likely take that ability for granted.  I'm guessing, of course, as I'm only moderately creative and woefully short on days and nights beneath the open sky.

But even without those gifts, I sense there is order to the chaos.

To stay on track and keep my short story from growing any longer than need be, I turn to the words of a man who possessed an innate ability to see the natural world as it truly is (was) and who came as close as one ever could to translating its language into our own.  Not only did he have vision, he also spent every possible moment outdoors and worked tirelessly toward preservation.  I shudder to think at how he'd feel about what's been done with all we had.

If I'm not careful, I'll get off track again, and drift back to my searching for words that Mr. John Muir was already kind enough to assemble.

"Every boulder is prepared and measured and put in its place more thoughtfully than are the stones of temples.  If for a moment you are inclined to regard these taluses as mere draggling, chaotic dumps, climb to the tip of one of them, tie your mountain shoes firmly over the instep, and with braced nerves run down without any haggling, puttering hesitation, boldly jump from boulder to boulder with ever increasing speed.  You will then find your feet playing a tune, and quickly discover the music and poetry of rock piles--a fine lesson, and all nature's wildness will tell the same story."

What do I know?  But that sounds about right to me.


  1. "The hand is gone
    But the grip remains
    The eye is gone
    But the gaze remains
    The brain is gone
    But the idea remains
    And when the feet are gone
    The path will still remain"
    -Daniel Higgs

  2. Ever so often I think about never writing and just using this space to repost Daniel Higgs lyrics. One of these days.