If you put me in a lineup of idiosyncratic folk, I would stand out, I think, as being the least idiosyncratic. I've pretty much dressed the same way since I was 8, which is pretty much the same way most Americans dress — T shirt, jeans and sneakers (with seasonal variations) — because I don't want to stand out. I have no tattoos, no piercings. My beard, when I've had one, was pretty run of the mill. No Goose-Gossage-like handles like my friend, Jimbo. My social and political views might seem a bit left kooky to Main St. America, but on Main St., Hastings-on-Hudson, I'm probably considered a centrist.
But it did occur to me today that some people might find my collection of transitory rock sculptures a tad idiosyncratic. They are located here and there around and outside the house. Three of them are on the windowsill in front of me.
The stones, in and of themselves, seem to be timeless. I can't fathom how long they've been around or when they will finally succumb to some eroding, corroding or exploding force and dissolve into whatever substance they came from. Put them together, however, and they form a unique, if inherently unstable, new form that's subject to winds, the rumble of a passing train or helicopter, the stomping of a young man's foot, the arthritic fingers of the cleaning lady, wandering cats or the slamming of the front door. Sometimes, I can watch them slowly dissemble, the pieces slowly sliding away from each other over many days.
When they come apart, weeks sometimes go by before I reassemble them. When that happens, though, I know I am in a doldrums, not getting much of anything done. Most of the time, I feel compelled to re-stack them fairly quickly. They usually take a form similar to the one that came before, but I try to change things slightly. Some have been quite impressive, to my eyes, but certainly none have been perfect. Hence, the effort to try again.
I noticed the effect of an afternoon shadow on one of the formations on the windowsill a little while ago. I decided to capture it with the camera (see below). Then I decided to capture all of them, as they exist now and won't exist tomorrow.
One of them — the one that ironically contains the most pieces, is inaccessible. It's covered, as it always is at this time of the year, by vegetation in the backyard garden. The stones of that formation all came from the same place — the base of a tree that I felt a compulsion to dig at one day. Among the rocks, which were surely buried there with some purpose, was one stone that I fancy to have been a scaping tool. I keep that one in the house.
Some of the other rocks are from places that have special meaning for me — Lake Uncas in Livington Manor, N.Y., the Rowley's Bridge Trail and Zinsser Field here in Hastings-on-Hudson, Riverdale Park in the Bronx. These are the ones generally stacked vertically in groups of three or five. They have a slightly different purpose than the others, which are arranged in different patterns and generally consists of five to 13 stones gathered from all over because, for some reason, they caught my eye. (I always construct pieces in odd numbers. It seems to me that I read somewhere that this is the cosmically correct thing to do. In any event, it feels like the cosmically correct thing to do.)
What do these formation do for me? I've been trying to not linger anywhere recently, or to project, and for all of the past and future their individual solidity implies, their collective instability tends to being me into the present. Anything can happen. Someday it will.