Sunday Rock

It was raining as I drove along the western edge of the Adirondack Park recently.  It was around the time when my thoughts turned to how much weight the Yankee pitcher, C. C. Sabathia, had lost during the off-season.  Or, perhaps I was reflecting on Colbert replacing Letterman on the Late Show.  More than likely, however, I was keeping an eye out for a public restroom (or a nicely protected tree).  I had just finished a large coffee purchased in Tupper Lake.  Let’s just say that my mind was covering a lot of ground that afternoon, like Kudzu in Virginia.

That’s when I was jolted back to real-time by the sight of an unusually large rock, standing upright beside the road.  The remains of the Earth Science teacher in me kicked in.  I made an about turn in a muddy driveway and went back.  Mariam snapped a photo of the rock at my request.  I read the historical sign.  Not all large rocks warrant a historical marker.  I was hoping there would be some significant story to this rock.  I was hoping the sign wouldn’t say “Large Rock”.  It didn’t.  instead, I found out that I had stumbled across a landmark that dates back hundreds of years.

Actually, the rock itself dates back thousands of years.  It’s a glacial erratic…a remnant of the Ice Age.  The rock had gotten a free ride from somewhere to the north and was left behind when the Great Thaw came and the ice receded.  That would be approximately 15,000 years ago (or, about six years ago if you’re a Creationist and don’t quite get on with the “Long View” of things).

The rock was used by the First People, the Native Americans, as a marker in their travels.  Later, when roads replaced footpaths, the rock also served as a landmark for the settlers, loggers, miners and woodsmen approaching the North Woods.

It became known as “Sunday Rock”.  Why, you may ask, was that name given to a stone?  No one, it seems, has the final answer.  But, in general, it was said that beyond the rock, in the woods, there were “No Sundays” and, by extension, no holidays (and very little law).

Life past the rock was carefree and few actions and pursuits were restricted.  Camps flourished and the freedom of the trails, brooks, mountains and fields reigned.  One could compare it to the life beyond the Mississippi River in the early 1880’s.  The law took time to catch up to the real pioneers and backwoodsmen.

I believe that in everyone’s life, there is a Sunday Rock.  Something we see in our view that beckons and reminds us of our goal.  A lake,  cabin, mountain, tree or a bend in the trail we are walking.

Or a rock.



[Winter photo source: Town of Colton]

Travels 14: Advice

One should always follow good advice.  The following four passages were taken from posters that were for sale at the Visitor Center of the Crater Lake National Park Headquarters.  The writer is Ilan Shamir.

Advice to the Mountains

Reach for new heights.  Rise above it all.

There is beauty as far as the eye can see.

Be uplifting.

Patience, Patience, Patience.

Get to the point.  Enjoy the view.

Advice to the River

Go with the flow.  Immerse yourself in nature.

Slow down and meander.  Go around the obstacles.

Be thoughtful of those downstream.

Stay current.

The beauty is in the journey.

Advice to the Tree

Stand tall and proud.  Sink your roots into the earth.

Be content with your natural beauty.

Go out on a limb.  Drink plenty of water.

Remember your roots.

Enjoy the view.

Advice to the Night Sky

See the big picture.  Be a star.

Keep looking up.  Don’t be afraid of the dark.

Stay full of wonder.

Expand your horizons.

Turn off the lights!


I Am Ice

I was one of the uncountable snow flakes that fell that day.  Time was the same, it snowed, it rained, drizzle fell, fog burned off and the sunshine broke through the clouds.  Before I fell to earth I had my last glimpse of the sun.  Then all darkened with clouds and more snow.
The sun became a memory.
Miles away, the First Peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast were emerging from a dark past and beginning to see wood, gold, bark, ivory and sea shells as forms of art.  Ancient mythic images, older than time began to take on a form…meaningful to the soul of these people.
I was a single snow flake with a crystal form all my own.  There was never another like me, then or even now.  I did not feel loneliness; within minutes, I was covered with others that were similar to me but never entirely the same as me.  Deeper I sank. More snow fell on me. Deeper and deeper I was buried in my white tomb.
I long ceased to see the sun, sky, clouds and moon.  The wind ceased it’s motion for me.  It was all darkness and stillness; total aloneness among zillions like me.  Far above me, lone hunters slushed the snows.  An occasional mountain climber.  Once, and I could feel his soul, a lonely man with a troubled mind, went over me looking for his place to find his God.  He went to a nearby mountain and, crouched against the rain and wind, waited for his God to come and take him back home.
I was slowly losing the sense of what I was.  I was losing my “snowness” and ever so gradually becoming less of a tiny flake and more of a crystal.  The process was slow.  I united with others like me and we morphed into true glacial ice.
All this was not totally quiet.  There were distant moans and shrieks as the glacial ice began to move, layer over layer, downward…toward any depth that the terrain allowed.
After many, many years, I, now a part of a vast collection of other crystals, began to see the light above me.  The youthful summer snows were melting away and we, now the grand old parts of the glacier were visible.  I could now hear and feel the piercing of the crampons of glacial researchers as they made their way over my surface.  Nearby, an errant solo mountaineer made a slight misstep and slid into a giant crack in my surface.  He cried out.  He died quickly.  But I can still hear the echoes of his pain throughout the expanse of ice.
One day, a teenage researcher chopped me free from the bed I lived on.  With the point of his ice axe he isolated my as a single crystal.  He took me between his fingers and held me up to the sun.  I saw the sun again.  It was as I remembered it.  I proudly reflected and refracted the spectrum and allowed the rays to spread like starlight.  He turned me over in his hands several times before tossing me away.
Very soon I will melt away and join the icy flow down glacier to the sea.  I’ll be gone for a very long time, probably.
But I’ll be back.