June brings a month of excitement. Along with thousands of others, this month I will be trying to do something new and wild everyday. On the first day of this wild journey, I find myself in Cornwall, my home.
Cornwall is made of granite. My childhood home is made of granite. Even my grandmother’s nickname was Granite! I decided to take a dip in to the gentle art of stone stacking or cairning. Granite comes in all sorts of different colours, depending on the colour of the quartz. The most common type, which most houses are made from is a sparkling grey.
My wife and I parked in a family friend’s farmyard and walked across fields to Nanjizal Bay. This oasis of calm provided the perfect place to explore the stones that make Cornwall what it is.
We beached at high-tide, leaving only a few large boulders for us to plant ourselves on. While Hayley soaked up the warm sun, I busied myself hopping around on the boulders, looking for different coloured stones. When stones are wet they’re much easier to identify, as the colours are much brighter. I found black stones with flecks of grey, orange stones with flecks of black and pale ones too.
I started stacking the stones by their colour. This, for an obsessive, is a dangerous game. What started as one neat rock stack, to pass the time while I drank a beer, became six rock stacks of all different rock types. If I had the time, I would have liked to stack every stone on the beach into their colours. You can imagine my horror when a child tried to place a pale stone atop my black granite tower!
I left the cairns to dry in the sun to see how their colours would change and explored the beach. On the left side of the bay there is a doorway in the rock leading out to sea. This doorway creates a natural pool of bright turquoise water and polished stones. I jumped in, if only for a few seconds.
Having given the stones plenty of time to dry, I went back to see how they had changed. The shiny black tower was now a blackish grey, while the orange and black stones had turned quite pale. For the last few weeks I’ve been carrying around a little sketchbook, but no pencil. On arrival at my parents’ house, I asked my mum for a pencil. She handed me an RSPB pencil case that must have been mine about twenty years ago… unused. For some reason the RSPB decided to put a purple pencil in the case but no blue, hence my slightly peculiar drawing.
We left the beach, and I felt as though I had connected with nature in a way I hadn’t before. Stacking stones is akin to Japanese sand gardening, utterly pointless yet therapeutic and pleasing. As we walked back across the stones I slipped and skinned my toe. My penance for messing with their natural arrangement.
What will tomorrow bring?
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