The stones I left (dedicated to vermont)

The stones I left

Atop Mount Pisgah and down in Lake Willoughby and by Long Pond and the Fire Tower, 
I accepted stones.
I accept your stones, I said aloud.
So as to honor this earth, we map the stones. 
Stones of granite. Shards of quartz like shark’s teeth. Stones of slate. Mother stones and father stones and stones of every creed.
Would it be OK if I did not sit like Buddha to accept these stones? 
But to see quartz popping out of the ground at Barr Hill and hear owls at Long Pond. 
To see a tree fallen and caught between two limbs of another and ferns so large and mountain green it transports me to prehistoric time.
To pick a wild raspberry and to watch a cow shit in a field.  
To take this stone for you, this sight of Jay Peak to the northwest and breathe, almost missing the windmills over the distance, this time immemorial of trees, an onionskin of time relative to all time, how shall we know this time? 
And what will it know of us? It is a trepidation before the mountains that causes me to hesitate, to see the 7 PM light coming off the clouds nestled above, it is absolutely quiet except for the rustling of leaves.
The sky opens up and illuminates the vista, a little breath of hello from above, something is out there, watching, And it is us that completes the picture.

To find little stones that one should leave for another to find. 
To trace and retrace the paths. 
To swim in the rain in Great Hosmer and to learn to pronounce Charlotte and Montpelier.  
To trace my fingers along birchbark like braille, reading the years and moments of toads, snakes, and frogs.  
To eat an underbaked piece of chocolate chip banana bread under the awning from the Craftsbury Jenny, served by a cute stony shopgirl.
To be out of cell phone reception for four hours and navigate only by a little pin on a map.  
To carry this stone this day for another to find on what is left of a tree stump or a boulder well worn by 1000 seasons.  
To see the stones standing bolt upright of Great Hosmer, thousand-pound stones, rolled on dowel-shaped logs, the Easter Island of our generation, of our empire.
To pick a daisy and count the love petals like a child. 
A hawk cries while I pick up an opalescent stone.  
To leave a stone as I left my grandfather that last day in rehab, my hand on his chest, a stone to the world, mouth open, nearly gone,
To travel throughout life as a monkey on a string but also as the string connected to the monkey, pulling at it in an unending cascade of waves.
The mountain is the mountain. And the rock is the rock. It exists for none of us. It is carved by the sounds of time over a duration longer than we can ever imagine. We have to behold it to embrace it, to enmesh with it, but never as our property. We are in its dominion and for that reason we serve.  

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