Wet Stones Whet Colour

Barry Lopez in “The Passing Wisdom of Birds” in Crossing Open Ground makes a fine distinction.

[T]hough it is possible to write precisely about something, this does not automatically mean one is accurate.

Which is a sentiment/observation that plays in the back of my mind as I recall an earlier passage (“Yukon-Charley: The Shape of Wilderness”) where water magic is at work.

I am drawn later to the water’s edge, a primal attraction. Bent over like a heron I start upriver, searching for stones, lured by the sparkling quartzes and smooth bits of glistening debris: maroon and blue, wheat colors, speckled birds’ eggs colors, purple, coal — I can settle twenty on the back of my hand, each one a different shade. I could poke here until I dropped of old age. My pockets slowly fill with stones, each tied vaguely to pleasure. It’s ten-thirty at night. The sun, low on the northwest horizon, throws light across to a full moon in the southeast sky.

Recalling my own engagement in collecting as a child, I fix vividly upon dry stones bereft of the shine offered by wetness and now at this late remove I remember sucking stones to restore colour. And such sucking reminds me of Beckett’s Malloy in the novel of the same name and the rotations of a set of stones through pockets and mouth … and a passage both precise and accurate.

And so for day 1335

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