Friday, June 20, 2008

Art, Craft, or Trade?

Vacationing at my dad’s cottage on the west shore of Cayuga lake, I’m drawn to the dock that provides level access to the water. I love the water—it seems there’s always something happening on, in, or around it, yet it can have a very calming effect. I’ve been to the dock alone a few times during this trip.

Along this section of the lake, rock cliffs climb twenty to thirty feet from the water’s edge. Landowners build cottages above the cliffs where the terrain slopes up through woods and fields. You can drive from the main road down various private drives and access roads to reach lakeside cottages, but from there you’re negotiating steel ladders, elevators, or paths built where water has eroded its own channels down the cliffs. Few properties have actual beach areas. Rather, large strategically-placed rocks might hold soil or pebbles against the cliff face, or heavy pilings driven into the lake floor support boardwalks, docks, and other walkways.

Some years ago, a friend of my dad’s visited from somewhere out west. While he was in the dock area at the lake cottage, he selected and stacked six stones atop one of the large rocks that helps retain the landing area at the bottom of the path down from the cottage. I believe that was the last visit my dad would have with that particular friend.

The stack of stones has some character: It is stark against the backdrop of the lake and skyline, providing yin where there is already plenty of yang. It has me musing: is it art? Is it craft? Was my dad’s friend a stonemason who can’t leave his work behind when he travels?

The stone stack holds my attention mostly because it’s there; I can’t recall any free-standing stone stacks elsewhere in my life.

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