Bleu Hares

I had a very interesting day yesterday, the first of October. First, I colored a bright royal blue streak in my hair while still in that early morning, slightly dazed state where all sorts of things seem reasonable to do. Just celebrating some personal stuff, you see – a sort of coming of age where I was giving up trying to be ‘respectable’ and at least a bit ‘business-like’. The streak was wider and brighter than I’d meant it to be. But I had work to do so I started out for Glasgow and clients and bits of shopping. I saw the clients, did the shopping, and I now have a new way of sorting people. In fact, they sorted themselves quite neatly into several categories:

  • Those who simply don’t notice. And it takes some not noticing – though there is only one, this is not a subtle blue streak.
  • Those who pretend not to notice. It’s surprising how easy they are to tell from the first group. There are two subcategories here:
    • People who can pull off pretending not to notice with a certain amount of coolness, and
    • People who can’t.
      I had several questions I needed to ask the rather distinguished-looking man behind the pharmacy counter. As I asked and he answered, his eyes wandered over to the blue streak, back to my eyes, over again, back to my eyes, and then fixed on my eyes so he could concentrate on not reacting.
      Naturally, there was a certain energy in my gaze because I was amused and trying to stay deadpan and energy has to go somewhere. Soon he became uncomfortable with such direct eye contact and dropped his gaze about a foot to the next anatomical landmark. After a bit he suddenly realized just what he was staring at so fixedly. A bright glow rose from his collar to his hairline, and he completely lost track of what he was saying. I am not a cruel person so I paid for my stuff and got out of there before I cracked up completely.
      I probably need some T-shirts that say distracting things. I’ve wanted one for a long time that says, “Fight Entropy – create a little havoc everywhere you go.” That seems suitable. However, even with the best of T-shirts, this actually may not be a problem that I can solve. But then, it really isn’t my problem, is it?
  • Those who tighten up their faces in disapproval. The less said about them the better. I don’t need to know people like that.
  • Those who smile. Who sort themselves into three subcategories:
    • trying to hide the smile,
      I thought the man in the bookstore was going to burst – he knows me by sight, but not personally, and felt he had to keep his hand in front of his mouth trying to hide a big grin while he talked with me – this from someone who runs a fantasy bookstore and has a bright red, bushy beard!
    • smiling openly and looking away, and
    • smiling and making friendly “kindred spirit” eye contact, to which I can’t help but respond with a grin of my own.
    • and the young lady in a category of her own: her hair was done all over in pastel streaks of pink, yellow, rose, green, teal, blue, violet, and peach. She was like a whole spring flower garden all by herself. I stood stock still, gobsmacked. Then I could see her bracing herself, tensing for my expected disapproval. I turned my head slightly so she could see my blue streak and turned back to find a radiant grin on her face.
      “Your hair is just gorgeous!” I enthused.
      “You’re nae so bad yoursel’,” she responded with a twinkle. She looked at my hair thoughtfully for a moment, then smilingly added, “But you could aye do with a few more colors, missus.”
      I agreed. We were very pleased with each other. And I shall have more, though not quite so many as she had. I’m thinking a touch of soft violet, perhaps a little old rose – just small subtle streaks. Do you think just a tiny bit of turquoise would be too much? If so, don’t bother telling me… I’m going to do it anyway.
  • Fifth category: People who stand stock still with an open mouth, gobsmacked. I dunno about them – especially since it has happened to me. One just has to wait and see what the next reaction is.

This is good. You don’t have to wonder what kind of a person you’re dealing with for even a moment. If I’d known it was going to be this much fun… Just think: I only paid 6 pounds sterling for that bottle of blue dye and there is still a lot more in it. That’s what I call great value for money.

© Copyright 1995 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.
This article may not be copied without written permission from the author.

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Stones That Travel

Earthquakes. as you know, are the results of the movement of stones, great tectonic plates slithering around beneath the surface of the earth, under the pressures of forces we barely begin to understand. Stones that move. Why? We make up reasons about the “how” but somehow don’t even think about the “why”.

Glaciers move. They are famous for it. And one of the things they move beneath their surfaces is stone. They chew great chunks of stone out of mountains, scraping and shattering and scattering, and they move smaller stones the size of a house or a shop or a bus. They even pick up tiny pebbles and grains of sand. They carry them all, sometimes for great distances.

Have you ever picked up a pebble from the beach and carried it around in your pocket? Why? Because it’s pretty? Because it sparkles? Because it has a unique shape or markings that look like… something? Because it might be precious? Because … just because? Consider flowers and how they attract insects to help fertilize them — scents, colors, even honey, the naughty things! And here we are picking up stones and carrying them around… why?

Suppose you carry a stone home and put it in your garden… what makes you want to do that? What is hidden in you, deep beneath the surface of your mind? More importantly, perhaps, what does the stone want? Is your garden its final destination? Or has it further travels simmering in its slow mind?

I have to admit that I do this. There are rocks in my garden that came from Scotland, from Wales and England, from Mount Laguna, from Hurricane Ridge, from Pillar Bay. Wherever I go, I’m very apt to come home with my pockets full of small stones — and possibly a shopping bag for larger or more grubby rocks.

When we were about to move from Scotland back to the USA, my husband asked if he could throw my box of “random” stones and pebbles away. Galvanized, I leaped up and shouted, “Let me sort them first!”

“Never mind,” he muttered and packed the lot. We brought them all.

There is a stone in my garden, wild jade. According to my son, it weighs something between three and four hundred pounds — closer to four. It is the altar in my garden. We found it in the decomposed granite soil well beneath the surface where the fir and western red cedar trees grow.

The top of the stone was about three feet down, and it was discovered when we were digging a hole to hold a 1000 gallon water tank. My son put it where I wanted my altar to be. When I moved into town for few years it went with me, and when I moved back into the forest it came back again, my son grumbling all the way. It is smooth, dull green, with jade’s soapy feel but not a precious stone, except perhaps to me. In spite of the fact that I’m about 300 feet above sea level, it has white petrified barnacles (or something that looks so like barnacles that I can’t tell the difference) on one side of it. Is it a glacial erratic?

There is a lot of wild jade in this area, but I don’t know how far it traveled to get here. I know one thing though — if I were to move back to Scotland, this altar stone would go with me. It’s my altar, after all. A sacred stone, resting on the ground and beneath the surface of my heart and always with me.

Have you ever considered that all things might be alive? And conscious? Have you realized that our Earthmama is only soft in some places on the surface, and that beneath the surface, she is all stone and metal, molten or rigid? And that she is in constant motion? Have you considered that we call her Earthmother, but we might more rightly call her Stonemother?

What if… just what if she creatively evolved all of us soft surface beings only to help shift stones around? In the distant past there have been several “die offs” where large portions of the soft surface life were eliminated from this planet. Was Stonemother simply clearing the way to evolve better movers of stone? From dynamite to bulldozers to denim pockets, are we (in the grand scheme of things) just facilitators for the movement of stone?

It’s something we have done since we began — simple stone tools, barrows and stone circles, stone huts, pyramids, marble temples, cathedrals, banks, grand homes — all of stone. We arranged the stones in beautiful patterns to show off their colors and lovely textures. We polished diamonds and rubies and quartz and all of the other scintillating, sparkling, seductive, glittering stones, and we wear them everywhere. “SHINY!” small girls shriek, and jewelers’ eyes gleam.

And now we build enormous structures: the huge buildings, the freeways and motorways — vast constructions of … cement. Certainly, it contains sand, and sometimes small rocks, but does it count? Have we gone wrong? Have we forgotten our true purpose in life?

We do know that we are facing yet another potential extinction period — is she planning to make room for even better movers of stone? Should we be focusing on this rather than carbon sequestration and changing temperatures?

It’s only a thought — please, don’t let it make you lie awake at night thinking about it. But I wonder, does Stonemother, or do the stones we have carried, know that we are alive and have feelings and thoughts in our own primitive way? Or do they see us as being like mayflies, flickering in and out in a moment, ephemeral? Have they any compassion for us at all?

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