Thursday, April 22, 2010
We went for a walk Tuesday after he got back from working at the sawmill. It was good to stretch my legs after sitting and writing. We walked the western side of the island along the shore. We talked about the birds and the tides and weather. We inspected cool looking rocks and watched the quarry freighters on the horizon. We didn’t have time to go all the way around the island so we took the inland trail back to the house.
Along the way he showed me different things about the trail and the plants. We looked at coyote, wolf and deer scat. Then we stopped. “Each time I come by I stop and say ‘Hi’.” He was referring to an ancient and wise White Cedar. Its energy drew me forward. Gently I stepped up on the bed of moss surrounding the base of its trunk. As I approached I asked permission to touch it. It was tentative at first. I reassured it I was Friend. I placed my hand on the massive trunk. I can’t adequately describe what I experienced. I did not hear or see or specifically feel anything. It was a combination of hearing sweet ancient words, of seeing light poor from the bark and of feeling a blanket of energy nestling it. Hesitantly it allowed me to blend and meld a small bit with it. I was there for just a few moments. I didn’t want to over stay my welcome. “Thank you, thank you for letting me be in your presence.”
Wednesday was a day of mixed activities. The morning started with me picking up rocks for Hugh to mix into the concrete project he was working on as a dock extension. I got to learn about pudding stones. When we were walking Tuesday he pointed out a couple and I thought he was saying “putting” stone. As if this particular type of stone was meant to be put or placed in a particular spot or manner. But no, that was not the name. The name of the stone is pudding, as in bread pudding or English pudding. Apparently the British saw the stones and they thought the stone looked like raisins, currants and nuts mixed into their pudding.
These stones that have red, black, white and green smaller rocks mixed into the matrix are called pudding stones. Pudding stones are a commodity here. People have been known to poach pudding stones from other peoples’ properties or to haul out of the lake to earn spare change. The stones are generally a white or cream matrix; the whiter they are being more “valuable.” Stone tiles are cut from them and they are made into napkin holders, coasters, knife handles and anything else you can imagine might be made from stone.
After collecting rocks for Hugh and then him making us some lunch, I went back to my writing and he went about his project. Late afternoon he suggested a walk. This time we went down the northeastern side of the island, along the bay. As we walked we chatted and picked up garbage, which wasn’t much, but we generally found a few pieces that have floated in on the tide. In one area we picked up some bits of plastic bag and styrofoam. He found a small styrofoam container that had some circuit boards in it. He told me that part of it was a pressure gauge and a xenon light and was probably from a weather balloon.
A piece of paper caught the corner of my eye. I burst into laughter when I saw what I had just freed from the twigs and grass it was tucked under. Hugh couldn’t understand why a piece of trash would make me laugh so hard. “You’re not going to believe what I just found.” He gave me a quizzacle look. “Guess — what’s the last thing you might think to find here?” I challenged him. All I got was a shrug of shoulders. “Well it pays to pick up garbage!” I declared as I held up the dirty ten dollar bill I had just found.
We chatted about the island, how he came about buying it, about the adjoining properties, and how special of a place it is to him. He had been afraid that I wouldn’t like it. Since buying Shelter Island he’d had two different girlfriends, both of whom eventually got bored or didn’t like it any more. He was afraid that would happen with me.
We were near the end of the island and could see a large boulder, crowned with orange lichen. It has a view of the bays on both sides of the island. “Hugh, you could sit me out here for an entire day with a note book, my camera and some food and I’d not be bored in the least. Then come sunset I still wouldn’t want to leave.” His smile and the twinkle in his eyes told me as he kissed me how happy that made him and how much he loved me.
We walked back as the sun started to set. Walking the shore requires me to pay attention to where I’m stepping, so as not to twist my ankle on the rocky shoreline. I paused for a moment and looked up, across the bay. The trees on the opposite side of the small bay were lit a burnt-orange red from the setting sun. So beautiful!