Friday, February 01, 2008

A Fondness for Rocks

The stones here have lived their own lives for a long, long time. Waves of Vikings, Picts, Romans, and refugees from all over the world have passed through here. Stones from older sites are often recycled or buried for a few thousand years and then reclaimed by the wind or the water or a new wave of immigration. A friend has a viking long house in her back yard. Every summer the archaeologists come back and dig some more, but they have to make choices: excavating all of the viking layers would come at the expense of all the layers on top.

On my first visit to Scotland, we were told of a homeowner who wanted to replace the old paving stones with a more modern floor. She dug up the stones only to discover underneath a Pictish grave yard. She simply put back the stones and made peace with the Pictish ghosts.

One of three brothers farming in the Bu ("main farm", derived from old Norse) of Hoy disappeared. A sudden disappearance was not that uncommon with the Scottish diaspora, but questions about where he had gone persisted for many years until again, a floor was raised, a skeleton exposed, and again peace was made with the ghost.

The life of the stones is not just in the stories they hold and the secrets they keep. Each stone hosts a world of moss and lichens. And a chink between stones is a universe unto itself with whole classes of plants included under the name of "stonecrop. "

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At 4:06 PM, Anonymous ampiggy said...

I'm printing these 2 posts in color and taking them to Vicki. These deserve to be seen in color.

At 1:58 AM, Blogger Hayden said...

DUHHHH! I'm slapping my head in frustration! So MANY times I've seen the word 'stonecrop' and assumed it was a particular plant - completely ignoring the entire universes of small plants that live on stones!

of course. duhh!

At 9:17 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

Shaky internet connection, so I must be telegraphic but wanted to respond to yr comments:
thx re colours for posts. The return of coulour up here is so important. Hope Vicki likes em.

Hayden, I laughed at yr head thunking. Yup some times the self evident eludes any or all of us. Of Interest to you perhaps is that some stonecriop is edible but not very tasty by my palate.


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