In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rearranging the universe

I have been filling an old wooden cart with stones, so that Greg can hitch the cart to the ATV and then take the stones down to the path that runs through our bog. He stabilized the path about a year ago by dumping stones on it. But it's a bog. It will always need more stones. Luckily for us, we have them. 

When we moved here two years ago, Skipper made us a driveway from the lower road to our house. On top of the new driveway he laid down stones from the cobble beach. Afterward, there were cobbles left over, and in all the excitement they got dumped on top of an old stone wall. Now my job is to take the beach cobble away from the stone wall. I'm editing the wall, maybe. Or restoring it, but I think that's a word that claims too much for what I'm doing. I want the old stones to look at rest again, that's all. 

You might not think how easy it is to see the difference between these two kinds of stones. The old wall is composed of stones from beneath the earth, home-grown, gathered up and pitched to thigh-high more than a hundred years ago. These stones are pretty big, mostly. The kind you would want to clear out of your field if you were going to plant anything there. They are dark grey and brown, softened with decades of lichen and moss. For stones, they have a kind of visual quality of softness. They come across as settled stones, stones with roots.  These are the Old Fellers' stones. 

Then, on top of the old wall, are beach stones. They come from away, in a way. They would never have gotten here on their own. They are varied: white, speckled with  black, round and smooth as gull eggs; pale grey or darker, sharply edged; golden bronze and stippled. They are smaller than the Old Fellers' stones. Tossed by wave action onto the island's shore, they could have come from anywhere in the world, really. They are beautiful in their own right, but they just don't seem to belong. Maybe in another hundred years they would fit in here. But we have a better use for them, right now. Willy-nilly, they are moving on.

While I'm working a single snake has emerged from her lair within the old wall. She watches me for a while, then lays her head along a warm stone and basks, soaking up a pale spring sun.  She looks calm and peaceful, even when I get an arm's length from her.  We keep an eye on each other the whole time that I am loading the cart. She can probably trace her local roots back to the time of the Old Fellers themselves. But of course she has no need to. She knows where she belongs.  

Scientists now think there may be a universal consciousness embodied at the cellular level and including all material – not just what we have generally thought of as living things, but the inanimate as well.  In our narrowly rational twentieth century framework we thought that animism was a child-like thing, to be outgrown or overcome.  But the mystics have always recognized the world’s immanent spirit, the presence of life force in all things, even a stone. So the universe is constantly rearranged, sometimes very slowly, and sometimes as quickly as I can toss bits of it into the cart.  

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