An Artist's Quest

Stones in the River

I spent the weekend out at our place in Cazadero nestled in the redwoods above a meandering creek.  This time of year the creek is raging with the force of winter rains.  The ground is long since saturated and the water has no place to go but down.  We were last here two weeks ago and since then the rain gauge reads about five inches, with more to come in the next round of spring storms.  One of our favorite things to do each time we visit is to clamber down to the creek and see what has changed.  With each storm old logs and branches and debris are swept away and new flotsam and jetsam arrive.  The creek bed changes course and rocks are pushed aside to form a new mosaic of color and form each time.  One of the things that draw me to the creek each time is the vast array of stones.  It seems to me this creek has an extraordinary variety of stones in its bed. There are gray stones of many shades and sizes, there are white stones of surprising clarity, there are red stones with thin white lines coursing through that bring to mind a fat marbled steak, mellow gold stones with a chalky surface and the rare find of small green stones that are smooth and soft and are quick to glow and polish from the grasp of a hand or the fold of a pocket.

Our journey down to the creek finds us fording the depths in tall rubber boots (carrying our short legged dog) to a stone island, whose boundaries are carved and stretched with each rain and season passing.  All that inhabit this island are river worn stones, one dead sentinel of a redwood that is covered in drill holes and filled to the brim with acorns stored diligently by woodpeckers, and, last but not least, one great stone as tall as a man that beckons to be climbed and basked upon.  It is here that my family and I rest and listen and wander.  We meander and poke and prod our surroundings in an aimless way that holds the aim of discovery and creation.  It is here that we often encounter the urge to be, what we call “worthy of Andy”.  Andy Goldsworthy that is. It is our way of describing making art with the materials at hand, in the place that we are.  If you are not familiar with the artist Andy Goldsworthy then this will be a real treat for you to follow this link to see his work, ( or short video if your are familiar with his work then follow it anyway to rediscover his wonderful creations that are so involved with place and time.  It is down at the creek that the urge to make balancing stone stacks becomes unstoppable.  There is something so satisfying about balancing stones atop one another to make something that seems to defy gravity.  There is also satisfaction in walking away from your creation, leaving your labors to be discovered, or not, leaving it to confront the river, wind and rains and forces of nature on its own, leaving it to return as it must to the jumble of the rock rabble around it.

On Friday I will share with you what form of our lazing labors took.  I invite you to check out some of Andy Goldsworthy’s amazing art and if you are inspired to make a rock pile or snow pile or stitch leaves together with thorns….then send me a photo by Thursday via email to and I will post your photo along with mine on Friday.


2 responses

  1. Pamela

    I bring home a rock from everywhere I go. They speak to me. I am happy to hear others love them as much.

    March 7, 2011 at 7:45 am

    • I love a rock memento too. Something solid and real from a fleeting place and time.

      March 7, 2011 at 10:51 am

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