We’re heading down south to gather some rocks and enjoy our naturism along the way.
We love rocks. They give us so much in a practical world and even delineate our paths guiding us along many a trail. With every excursion into nature, we are compelled to collect a few “special” rocks. The collections gather along the lengths of or homes, around flowers and plants and decorations at entrances. I study them individually, like I would creative art, mediation, God’s art.
Taking rocks home, I fall in love, I turn them into gardens in and of themselves. I enhance the vegetation with them, Zen-like.
I have memories of one rock that is a nice big lug with perfect grooves for placing butts. We perch high atop it, views in every direction, imbibe its colors, the lichen. We’re entertained with its texture and color.
I have found place of grounding and magic on my Havarock in Tortolita. It is like an old friend. It’s coming home.
With rocks, we dam the waters, and build structures that will last forever. They contour the waters of the streams, they give us history and geology. The roads made by the lust of miners looking for those special rocks are now our trails.
We use them like our ancestors, as tables and a nice clean unencumbered place to rest. I find grooves in them in special places. These were used to grind corn and grains, or paste and paint, long ago.
We search for the best rock along a trail and know it to be more than choice. Although inanimate, they give us goals, driving us on and directing us. Memorable formations are landmarks.
Rocks are earth. They are reminders of the ages and our short time here. They are endless colors and shapes. There are trillions and never the same.
There’s a geologist inside me that tries to figure out just how this specimen came about. Always, I have a puzzle or mystery to attempt to solve.
DF likes the heart shaped.
Rocks may mark a grave in honor and love, they mark time, and distance. They are the safety of a cairn.
Gems are rocks. Here in Tucson each year, in February, people come from every corner of the world in the commerce of rocks. The Tucson Gem Show is the grandest on Earth these days. Precious gems the size of boulders, crystals as big as a man, geodes large enough to walk into and feel their natural energies and heat. Millions of tiny diamonds and stone beads to decorate bodies are on display. All human expression is attached, wonderment and ritual, appreciation, hype, wealth and status. All imported, exported and carried around the world, because people love rocks.
Native Americans use rocks to match spirit, qualities and colors. Their rocks are alive. Physics has them alive, too. They are expressed as just really slow electrons.
Sometimes I see a rock, pick it up and take it for a ride down the trail. I find a lake, or pond and I’m all for skipping rocks to a personal best. Search for the perfect “skipper” and then throw it away. I’ve skipped to the other side of a pond, chased it down and thrown it back where it came from.
Rocks line trails, preventing erosion, they are also what is left after erosion. These bare rocks make feet sore sometimes and they provide them a massage at other times. They wear on a shoe and make me walk a straight course in a zig zag.
Some are wet and slippery, but I stop and to appreciate all of the varieties shinning in the waters.
Then, there’s the gift of the campfire….
Today, we wander to a creek that flows down a valley and out of the Santa Rita Mountains. The trees along the road are populated by the culture of camping trailers. They gather in groups like gypsies in the designated campsites. The escapees are surrounded by the Americana of barbecues, folding chairs, baseball caps and sluggish bodies in rest and peace.
There has never been so many of these visitors in these foothills, but we’re intent on a little more elbow room. In the road ahead is a steep drop in the road, a usual puddle in the creek bed and an even steeper climb out. It is a challenge for any SUV or anyone pulling a trailer. It thins out the herd.
We’re surprised to see some flow from the rains and snow. It hasn’t rained, but a few times all year. This is good to see. This means hope and rejuvenation. The watershed thirst being quenched, there is still very dry vegetation for those with more shallow roots. The grass is brown. We see no Spring blooming this year and it’s nearly April.
The campsite, that we have used before, is left just to us on this Monday. I park the truck in between the alligator juniper trees backwards. We are hidden in the little glen. We will work behind trees and the cover of car doors and steel and the creek’s gully. Occasionally, a passing car will be seen on the dusty road through the tree trunks and bushes We are searching for good sized rocks. I don’t want to lug these specimens any farther than I have to, not an extra car length, twenty or thirty times over.
Tailgate opened, I lay out a tarp over the carpeted interior of our SUV. I turn to see that the slope down to the creek is much deeper and further than I remember. Oh well, I need the exercise. Considering the beauty around us, complaining about these working conditions seems ungrateful.
I take a couple of breaths of fresh air, as I listen to the quiet and the bird’s calls and then I begin to scout my way down the slope. I have to test the stability of the rocks and find that they are well entrenched. There are a few larger ones that appear to have been placed for step stone footholds. Midway, there is a golden bedrock. Sharp edges like a row of dull blades sticking out of the ground, may be a reasonable traction. I test my footing on them. I expect them to crumble, becoming slippery granite sand, but my feet get purchase on the more level portion. They give a good deep grip on the soles of my toe-shoes. This will work, step by mindful step.
Having learned the path is safe up and down, I’m at the banks of the creek, exploring the amount of water left by the rains in the mountains. There’s a peaceful excitement. Standing with a sense of solitude, nestled among trees and gully, I hear the trickle of flowing water in a tiny waterfall. With drought all around, water is evident life. It seems to bring a natural sense of hope to me, something that I share with the life that awaits its coming.
I find that I will have to walk across on stepping stones, or get my feet soggy wet. This isn’t inconvenience in my mind. It is joy. After a year of drought and covid consternations, a little creek like this, to me, is experiencing a miracle.
I squat to touch it, to smell it, to get reacquainted. I know that this nature will revive itself and I feel a part of that. Treating the place as precious, stepping across on rocks, connects me with millennia of ancestry and muscle memory of my childhood. This stream has a rainbow plethora of colored rocks.
Today, we’re collecting for a medicine wheel. It is a Native American ritual space, which is delineated by rocks of various qualities, symbolisms and colors. The Medicine Wheel with its orientation to the four directions, has symbolic meanings. Aspects of life and personal experience in each rock are in opposites across the circle. There are also symbolic rocks used to make a cross in the center. This mandala is then used to walk, to intuit sense and reflect on where one might stand in this circle in relation to the aspects of life. Like a dotted chart, you’ll find where you are, at the time. If you don’t find yourself standing in the center, you’ll notice what is missing to make that balance by looking to the other side. By adding more of this “other side “into your life, balance is created, or found.
The result of the use of the wheel can be very therapeutic, revealing, and an exercise of exploring self. I have a designated “sacred space” in my yard to house this activity. It also will double as a boulle court, the French steel ball tossing game. It is to be a group gathering spot, and also a firepit space to sit around, converse and play music. So, we begin our gathering. We choose which rocks have been waiting for us, created and stored over millennia, as we step on the rounded stones.
We are tempted, but responsible enough to not pick some that the creek needs. Some are holding soil, stopping erosion and creating conditions for plant life and the restoration of topsoil. Some direct the water in important ways. Some have been up on the slope holding tree roots in anchor, when the floods come.
I certainly get my exercise. DF helps with the search, but leaves her collection at streamside at the base of the slope. I find her above, naked, laying on a picnic mat, smiling in peace. She looks up through the trees to the sky and beyond. Her back is healing from an injury and she needs to rest, not over doing it.
I have had similar back issues, but not as severe and have decided to risk a few more days of recovery. I will groan through a couple of days as the price of this load of, for me, gems. When I have set enough specimens up by the truck, we sort the collection out. I consult a book and reference notes to see if we have a satisfactory inventory. We discuss the colors. They are not primary colors. Is it blue, green, or call it grey? Blue/green and green/blue are described in the book. The sun pops in and out behind clouds adding to the confusion, as it changes the tint and subtleties. Light brings out colors in various ways.
We lack enough yellow and gold. I return to the creek to search for more. Eventually the less populous color stands out among the others in contrast, one further downstream, one under a bush.
We enjoy a few hours nude in nature, a pleasant picnic lunch, exercise, interaction and spirit. This is good today. The medicine of balance will come later, but for now, the moment feels good.
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