Monday, February 13, 2012

The Singing Stone

A map of the land, with the streams, ponds and house marked. The dotted lines are favourite deer trails I follow. Red dots are recent cougar kills. The position of Songstone is high-lit where the trail past the house meets the stream. 

THERE IS NO HUMAN SOUND HERE. No voices, no machinery, It’s not silence, because the woods are alive with nature.  Even the stones sing…

Music originally heard from nature is a part of every culture in the world. The music might be within a hill or a rock. A fiddler might play a tune his grandfather heard on the hill, a tune the fairies gave him - or the seals sang.  There is a nettle song in the Himalayas, one of plant songs, almost forgotten. When you hear one for yourself, then you believe. A Snoqualmie elder recently shared his river song with us, a song he keeps hearing on one particular stretch of the river.

There is an unusual art form among the native people here, which uses bold painted shapes, and groups of dots. The dots are songs; I was told they represent the number of songs the person had “heard” in nature.

Walking in the un-tamed wood is an aerobic exercise. You have to scramble over high windfalls and tumble into ancient holes where root boles have been pulled from the land by wind or water. A  bear may have her den there. You might disturb ground-nesting wasps, and be chased for hundreds of yards over rough terrain by armed guards flying with the speed of fighter jets. Balancing on a log to cross a waterfall, in a mindless moment you might grasp a devil’s club stem for balance; their 10ft tall, upright staffs follow the water course.  A large cougar might watch you pass, invisible behind a veil of leaves, or laid in wait on the branch above your head. It’s an unnerving experience to find a cougar kill on a trail you use regularly.

Tip of a tall 'devil's club" staff  growing along the stream. The painting is mounted on paper made using Devil's Club fibre, on top of cedar fibre paper.
Awareness is different here.

You pay more attention when there are serial killers loose in the forest. Your senses are sharply-honed, listening to every wild conversation - listening at the edge of sound for a change in the pattern.

It’s nothing like a walk in the park.

I love this place because of all these things.

Songstone: The Songstone stream  flows beside it, a remnant of the glacial flow that once deposited this huge boulder. The stone is granite, with sparkling crystalline structures.
Nothing can prepare you for the day when, standing alone in a familiar place, miles from other people, you hear harp-like music, echoing from a stone as if coming from a great hall or metal room. Others hear it too, in this same place, from this mammoth glacial rock.

There is no human sound here. But the stones sing…

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