Stones are heavy and dense, so when they rise up from the ground….on top of each other… we tend to notice.
One end of our beach is covered in sea-worn watermelon sized stones.
Usually they lie there soaking up sunlight until they are jostled by the wash of the next tide.
They rumble and tumble and rearrange position, but they are still lying down.
Last week as I was talking to a neighbour on the water’s edge, we noticed some stones were no longer lying down.
They were in a stack - carefully balanced on top of each other.
And another stack. And another one over there. Five stacks of stones and no stone stacker in sight.
On asking around, no-one had seen a single stone stacker since the last tide.
In the twelve years I have lived here, I had seen that sight only once before – on this same site.
Had the stones slept heavily all day in their sandy beds until they saw every last human leave the beach heading for their own salty beds?
And had those stones laid there silently until the light faded from the western sky and the cover of night blanketed them from human eyes?
And then did the smallest scout stones roll around the edge of the tide, checking they were all safe from prying human eyes?
And then, only then, did they do what stones do when the tide, the time, and the sacred cloak of night enable them to?
Without human eyes limiting them to their static status, had the stones re-found their forgotten life forces
and climbed on top of each other into precariously balanced stone stacks?
Had they self-assembled overnight......?
But I love the possibility.
Meanwhile the tide is rising ever closer right now to the stone stacks.
Stacks of stones have been used for millennia by many cultures for the practical purpose of marking a trail,
or for the more sacred purpose of honouring the memory of a person, a place or an event.
These simple stone structures are also beautiful and deeply satisfying to encounter.
My sense is that as well as having any pragmatic, sacred or aesthetic consideration,
stones stacks have the capacity to collect, amplify and broadcast some earth and sky based energies.
A stone stack painting I did a couple of years ago called The Stone Lens, hints at that possibility.
A requested work I did for a friend also explores that subtle realm.
What’s intriguing about the stone stacks that appeared at this end of our beach, is that they are not a simple stack.
They are constructed as a balancing act - often with a surprise foundation.
This was also the case with the stones stacks that appeared here a few years ago.
The spontaneous discovery of those stones inspired a painting that I have long since sold, called Stone Sunrise.
The whole structure was dependent on a tiny pebble wedged in at the base.
But right now, the tide is teasing at the toes of the new stone stacks.
Part of the delight of these stone stacks is that regardless of their artful construction, or the identity of their creative maker,
they will be taken by the tide by morning.
The stones will be innocently lying in their sandy beds when the humans wander past at dawn.