Saturday, 14 April 2007

On My Dartmoor Stone

Last weekend, Easter Saturday, I had the chance to visit 'my stone' on the edge of Dartmoor near Burrator reservoir. It is a fairly inconspicuous and unassuming stone - most of it is probably buried in the granite and peat moor. It is just a wide, circular dome-shaped stone, only rising about a foot from the surrounding grass, and it is just a good shape upon which to stand, sit or lie. It is immediately surrounded by sheep-grazed grass and single standing pines, with denser conifers behind it and a view up to a nearby tor in front. Nothing amazing, but it is a place which I have visited over several years.

My pilgrimage to the stone was about an hours walk from where I had left the car.

It was a cool morning with the promise of a warm sunny spring day. There was a moderate haze that obscured the distant views. The larches around the stone were tinged with the green of new growth and gorses were in full flower. I sat and listened with my eyes closed: skylark, chaffinch, crow, woodpecker and other small birds in the pines. There was only the faint gentle mumer of the wind in the trees - almost imperceptible - like a slow wave of sound moving across the forest. Sometimes it would be good to be in the wind in a place like this and hear the wind totally naturally - without hearing the sound of the wind around your ears and head which can make up much of what you hear. No human sounds, or perhaps just a faint few voices from distant walkers, but none passed my sight in my time here. A couple of aeroplanes up high; and the buzzing of flies.

I welcome my soul to this place
I welcome my soul to the sun
I welcome my soul to the breeze
I welcome my soul to the trees
I welcome my soul to the grass
I welcome my soul to this stone
I welcome my soul to this place.

I lay down on my stone and put my ear to it. What would I hear? So close to the ground, I could sense its depth, its blackness, its coldness, its infinite connection to the earth beneath.

Looking closely at the surface of the granite stone was fascinating. A world of moss and lichens on the weathering granite - with tiny patches of black (mica) glistening like small gemstones in the speckled white stone (quartz). I notice the small and black spherical lichens around a few millimeters or less in size. Some lichens elements were even smaller (I must revise my botany too!). All forming a microcosm of life on the rocks surface.

My stone and I enjoy an hour together, just experiencing peace and presence in the landscape.


There is so much I could draw in the landscape but, when I am only here one or two days a year, having a decent walk and just enjoying exploring always seems to take priority.

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