The Work of a Rock Is To Ponder

September 18, 2016

Rows of rock cairns, Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park

Rows of rock cairns, Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park

by Jane Hirschfield, from Given Sugar, Given Salt

What appears to be stubbornness,
refusal, or interruption,
is to it a simple privacy.  It broods
its one thought like a quail her clutch of eggs.

Mosses and lichens
listen outside the locked door.
Stars turn the length of one winter, then the next.

Rocks fill their own shadows without hesitation,
and do not question silence,
however long.
Nor are they discomforted by cold, by rain, by heat.

The work of a rock is to ponder whatever is:
an act that looks singly like prayer,
but is not prayer.

As for this boulder,
its meditations are slow but complete.

Someday, its thinking worn out, it will be
carried away by an ant.
Mystrium camille,
perhaps, caught in some equally diligent,
equally single pursuit of a thought of her own.



The flat, smooth, water-rounded pebbles and rocks on the beaches of Washington’s Pacific coast seem to inspire Andy Goldsworthy-ish mini-sculptures.  I often find cairns, those piles of gradually smaller and smaller stones precariously balanced.  Part of their appeal is their ephemeral nature, waiting to be toppled by tide or wind or passersby.

My sister and her husband collect heart-shaped stones.  I seem incapable of walking a beach without picking up at least one favorite rock or stone to take home.  On this day, I found irresistible this dimpled rock that felt good in my hand and pocket:


And I added my own Andy Goldsworthy-inspired rock art to the Rialto Beach landscape.  It was likely dismantled by the next incoming tide, but I couldn’t wait around to witness its destruction.




6 Responses to “The Work of a Rock Is To Ponder”

  1. selah Says:

    I really like this post being a beach rock collector myself. I like what you left, with the rings on the rocks it looks like a necklace.

  2. I love rocks and pebbles, I a always looking for “special” ones, that first picture is awesome ! did you make that rock art ?

    • Rosemary Says:

      I didn’t make the piles. I just found them on the log like that. Someone, or maybe a group, did a lot of work! It was impressive.

  3. Anne Timlick Says:

    What a big joy for me in your post!

    A fellow rockhound, I am thrilled finding and holding heart-shaped, dimpled, ringed, silent witnesses to the beauty of creation, to the Maker.

    Rosemary, I’m very grateful for your pondering and photographic art!!

  4. Diana Studer Says:

    thanks for collecting those pebbles, in pictures for me.
    Would love to wander, eyes down, on that shore.

  5. seenu625 Says:

    My hobby too! Please do visit my blog and recommend comments.

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