About 15 minutes up a section of the Bruce Trail through the woods near my place there’s a small branch trail leading to a cliff-edge lookout over Hope Bay, and Georgian Bay off in the distance. But on the way there the trail winds through a rugged area with large, moss-covered boulders on either side. Especially on grey, overcast days the moss has a luminous, iridescent glow. I have stopped and taken a closer look at some of them, especially the little gardens that have managed to take root on top, where there must be a thin layer of soil collected over a great many years. It’s a wonder, how nature can endure and survive on so little, through winter’s bitter cold in these parts, under a protective blanket of snow, and come alive in the spring.
I sense I dare not touch those delicate little plants, or disturb the moss. Except, I think, perhaps with the lightest hand, like a gentle breeze coming off the Bay, and through the protective trees. But no, I let them be.
These stones, I will call them, were left there many thousands of years ago by the retreating glaciers of the last ice age. In an age of global cooling, massive walls of expanding ice plowed south and north from the polar regions. Even the ultra-hard, pre-Cambrian rock of what is now called the Canadian Shield could not always resist the pressure and broke under the relentless, irresistible weight of ice. Later, as the great glaciers ebbed and flowed in retreat, countless stones like these I see alongside the trail now were left behind. They speak to us, if we care to stop long enough to listen.
One such stone is near the side of Cathedral Drive, the short, “no exit” road that leads to my little farm. It too is actually part of the Bruce Trail, going in the other direction. I don’t know why, but, though I took note of that stone, I never really paid it much attention until a week or so ago. Or, as a good friend of mine said when I was telling her later, “so, you said ‘hello’ to the rock?”
I said, with a certain wonder, “Yes, Yes I did, that’s exactly what I did.”
My two canine friends, Buddy and Sophie were with me early that morning just after sunrise as usual. It wasn’t quite as cloudy a morning as the others had been for days before. But the sun wasn’t breaking through. I stopped at the stone, where the road goes into the woods. I had an urge to put my hand on it, where the bare rock on one side meets the shining, green moss on top. I left my hand there for a while – not long though, because the mischievous little cockapoo Sophie jumped up and looked like she was going to start digging into the moss. I picked her up, with a “no, Sophie,” and put her down on the ground. Buddy, my always curious German Shepherd was standing nearby, just looking at me with his big, wondering, brown eyes. We, all three of us, headed back down the road, out of the woods, in the direction of home.
At that point I always look toward the rising sun in hopes of getting a good helping of those most live-giving rays to help mitigate the usual SADs effect I experience at this time of year, especially in November.
And there it was, breaking through an opening in the clouds – the sun, in all its morning glory.
What a picture, I thought for a moment, and wished I had brought my camera with me, for both the sun and the stone.
But then I thought better of it: best was not taking a picture; best was to take it into my heart.
And that’s what I did.
Indeed, I have promised myself, and what I now call my “touchstone,” that I will not break the spell of whatever it is we are doing.
Every morning now, as I take the dogs and myself for a walk, I stop to say “hello” and touch the stone. Sophie, who is a smart ms little puppy still, seems to understand now that she’s not supposed to jump up on the moss. So, I’m taking a little more time to say whatever comes to mind, yes, to the stone. This morning I said a prayer. It was a prayer of gratitude.
Tomorrow morning, I may just stay quiet and let the stone speak to me, or not.
No pressure. Just let it be.