One billion grains of sand come into existence in the world each second. That's a cyclical process. As rocks and mountains die, grains of sand are born. Some of those grains may then cement naturally into sandstone. And as the sandstone weathers, new grains break free. Some of those grains may then accumulate on a massive scale, into a sand dune.
Venice is truly magical. The Devon-Dorset coast in England is so beautiful, and its sandstone cliffs are full of fossils, which can make for some very exciting walks. And I love Halifax, a great place with all the modern things you could want, plus a wonderful sense of history, and, of course, the sea.
None could guess my confusion, my host of deluded illusions and elusive delusions! A mantle of marble hiding a crumbling core of sandstone. See how they stare at me, wondering, all wondering, at my secret wellspring of wisdom...' Let's kill him,' Crokus muttered, 'if only to put him out of our misery.
None could guess my confusion, my host of deluded illusions and elusive delusions! A mantle of marble hiding a crumbling core of sandstone. See how they stare at me, wondering, all wondering, at my secret wellspring of wisdom... ' Let's kill him, ' Crokus muttered, 'if only to put him out of our misery.
Living there [Horse Mesa] was like living in a natural cathedral. Waking up every morning, you walked outside and looked down at the blue lake, then up at the sandstone cliffs--those awe-inspiring layers of red and yellow rock shaped over the millennia, with dozens of black-streaked crevices that temporarily became waterfalls after rainstorms.
Nothing grows among its pinnacles; there is no shade except under great toadstools of sandstone whose bases have been eaten to the shape of wine glasses by the wind. Everything is flaking, cracking, disintegrating, wearing away in the long, inperceptible weather of time. The ash of ancient volcanic outbursts still sterilizes its soil, and its colors in that waste are the colors that flame in the lonely sunsets on dead planets.
Clinging to the rags I had left, I gazed out upon the full breadth of the Furnace and shook at what I saw. The world had been wiped clean of all trace of humanity. Sharp sandstone peaks protruded into the gray sky like a humped backbone, spilling into vast seas of sand on either side. Boulders and driftwood, the castaways of some bygone mountain, cast the only disruption upon the land. And I realized-no sun crossed the sky; there was only constant, lingering grayness.
Since the first human eye saw a leaf in Devonian sandstone and a puzzled finger reached to touch it, sadness has lain over the heart of man. By this tenuous thread of living protoplasm, stretching backward into time, we are linked forever to lost beaches whose sands have long since hardened into stone. The stars that caught our blind amphibian stare have shifted far or vanished in their courses, but still that naked, glistening thread winds onward. No one knows the secret of its beginning or its end. Its forms are phantoms. The thread alone is real; the thread is life.
One cannot walk down an avenue, converse with a friend, enter a building, browse beneath the sandstone arches of an old arcade without meeting an instrument of time. Time is visible in all places. Clock towers, wristwatches, church bells divide years into months, months into days, days into hours, hours into seconds, each increment of time marching after the other in perfect succession. And beyond any particular clock, a vast scaffold of time, stretching across the universe, lays down the law of time equally for all.
Fireworks made of glass. An explosion of dew. Crescendo. Diminuendo. Silence. There are drugs that work the same, and while I am not suggesting that our founder purchased the glassworks to get more drops, it is clear that she had the seed planted, not once, but twice, and knew already the lovely contradictory nature of glass and she did not have to be told, on the day she saw the works at Darling Harbour, that glass is a thing in disguise, an actor, is not solid at all, but a liquid, that an old sheet of glass will not only take on a royal and purplish tinge but will reveal its true liquid nature by having grown fatter at the bottom and thinner at the top, and that even while it is as frail as the ice on a Parramatta puddle, it is stronger under compression than Sydney sandstone, that it is invisible, solid, in short, a joyous and paradoxical thing, as good a material as any to build a life from.
To reach the farthest chamber of Lascaux, it's likely a man had to snuff out his light, lower himself down a shaft with a rope made of twisted fibers, and then rekindle his lamp in the dark so as to draw the woolly rhinoceros, the half horse, and the raging bison there. A long spear transfixes that bison, and entrails pour from its side. Beneath its front hooves lies the one painted man in all of Lascaux: prone, spindly wounded, disguised behind a bird mask. And below him, until its discovery in 196o, lay a spoon-shaped lamp carved of red sandstone... Hold it again as it once was held, and the animals will emerge out of darkness as you pass. Nothing stays still. Shadows nestle in the cavities; a flicker of light across pale protruding rock turns a hoof or raises a head. One shape recedes as another emerges, and everything lingers in the imagination.
Live water heals memories. I look up the creek and here it comes, the future, being borne aloft as on a winding succession of laden trays. You may wake and look from the window and breathe the real air, and say, with satisfaction or longing, 'This is it.' But if you look up the creek, if you look up the creek in any weather, your spirit fills, and you are saying, with an exulting rise of the lungs, 'Here it comes!' Here it comes. In the far distance I can see the concrete bridge where the road crosses the creek. Under the bridge and beyond it the water is flat and silent, blued by distance and stilled by depth. It is so much sky, a fallen shred caught in the cleft of banks. But it pours. The channel here is straight as an arrow; grace is itself an archer. Between the dangling wands of bankside willows, and Osage orange, I see the creek pour down. It spills toward me streaming over a series of sandstone tiers, down and down, and down. I feel as though I stand at the foot of an infinitely high staircase, down which some exuberant spirit is flinging tennis ball after tennis ball, eternally, and the one thing I want in the world is a tennis ball.
I see them standing at the formal gates of their colleges, I see my father strolling out under the ochre sandstone arch, the red tiles glinting like bent plates of blood behind his head, I see my mother with a few light books at her hip standing at the pillar made of tiny bricks with the wrought-iron gate still open behind her, its sword-tips black in the May air, they are about to graduate, they are about to get married, they are kids, they are dumb, all they know is they are innocent, they would never hurt anybody. I want to go up to them and say Stop, don't do it-she's the wrong woman, he's the wrong man, you are going to do things you cannot imagine you would ever do, you are going to do bad things to children, you are going to suffer in ways you never heard of, you are going to want to die. I want to go up to them there in the late May sunlight and say it, her hungry pretty blank face turning to me, her pitiful beautiful untouched body, his arrogant handsome blind face turning to me, his pitiful beautiful untouched body, but I don't do it. I want to live. I take them up like the male and female paper dolls and bang them together at the hips like chips of flint as if to strike sparks from them, I say Do what you are going to do, and I will tell about it
A wind rose, quickening; it seemed at the same instant invade my nostrils and vibrate my gut. No, I've gone through this a million times, beauty is not a hoax. Come on, I say, to the creek, surprise me; and it does, with each new drop. Beauty is real. I would never deny it; the appalling thing is that I forget it. Waste and extravagance go together up and down the banks, all along the intricate fringe of the spirit's free incursions into time. On either side of me the creek snared and kept the sky's distant lights, shed them into shifting substance and bore them speckled down. This Tinker Creek! It was low today, and clear. On the still side of the island the water held pellucid as a pane, a gloss on runes of sandstone, shale, and snail-inscribed clay silt; on the faster side it hosted a blind profusion of curved and pitched surfaces, flecks of shadow and tatters of sky. These are the waters of beauty and mystery, issuing from a gap in the granite world; they fill the lodes in my cells with a light like petaled water, and they churn in my lungs mighty and frigid. And these are also the waters of separation: they purify, acrid and laving, and they cut me off. I am spattered with a sop of ashes, burnt bone knobs, and blood; I range wild-eyed, flying over fields and plundering the woods, no longer fit for company.
It is sheer coincidence that my hunk of the creek is strewn with boulders. I never merited this grace, that when I face upstream I scent the virgin breath of mountains, I feel a spray of mist on my cheeks and lips, I hear a ceaseless splash and susurrus, a sound of water not merely poured smoothly down air to fill a stead pool, but tumbling live about, over, under, around, between, through an intricate speckling of rock. It is sheer coincidence that upstream from me the creek's bed is ridged in horizontal croppings of sandstone. I never merited this grace, that when I face upstream I see the light on the water careening towards me, inevitably, freely, down a graded series of terraces like the balanced winged platforms on an infinite, inexhaustible font. 'Ho, if you are thirsty, come down to the water; ho if you are hungry, come sit and eat.' This is the present, at last. This is the now , this flickering, broken light, this air that the wind of the future presses down my throat, pumping me buoyant giddy with praise. My god, I look at the creek. It is the answer to Merton's prayer, 'Give us time!' It never stops. If I seek the senses and skills of children, the information of a thousand books, the innocence of puppies, even the insights of my own city past, I do so only, solely, entirely that I might look well at the creek. You don't run down the present, pursue it with baited hooks and nets. You wait for it, empty-handed, and you are filled. You'll have fish left over. The creek is the one great giver. Here is the word from a subatomic physicist: 'everything that has already happened is particles, everything in the future is waves.' Let me twist his meaning. Here it comes. The particles are broken; the waves are translucent, laving, roiling with beauty like sharks. The present is the wave that explodes over my head, flinging the air with particles at the height of its breathless unroll; it is the live water and light that bears from undisclosed sources, the freshest news, renewed and renewing, world without end.
And under the cicadas, deeper down that the longest taproot, between and beneath the rounded black rocks and slanting slabs of sandstone in the earth, ground water is creeping. Ground water seeps and slides, across and down, across and down, leaking from here to there, minutely at a rate of a mile a year. What a tug of waters goes on! There are flings and pulls in every direction at every moment. The world is a wild wrestle under the grass; earth shall be moved. What else is going on right this minute while ground water creeps under my feet? The galaxy is careening in a slow, muffled widening. If a million solar systems are born every hour, then surely hundreds burst into being as I shift my weight to the other elbow. The sun's surface is now exploding; other stars implode and vanish, heavy and black, out of sight. Meteorites are arcing to earth invisibly all day long. On the planet, the winds are blowing: the polar easterlies, the westerlies, the northeast and southeast trades. Somewhere, someone under full sail is becalmed, in the horse latitudes, in the doldrums; in the northland, a trapper is maddened, crazed, by the eerie scent of the chinook, the sweater, a wind that can melt two feet of snow in a day. The pampero blows, and the tramontane, and the Boro, sirocco, levanter, mistral. Lick a finger; feel the now. Spring is seeping north, towards me and away from me, at sixteen miles a day. Along estuary banks of tidal rivers all over the world, snails in black clusters like currants are gliding up and down the stems of reed and sedge, migrating every moment with the dip and swing of tides. Behind me, Tinker Mountain is eroding one thousandth of an inch a year. The sharks I saw are roving up and down the coast. If the sharks cease roving, if they still their twist and rest for a moment, they die. They need new water pushed into their gills; they need dance. Somewhere east of me, on another continent, it is sunset, and starlings in breathtaking bands are winding high in the sky to their evening roost. The mantis egg cases are tied to the mock-orange hedge; within each case, within each egg, cells elongate, narrow, and split; cells bubble and curve inward, align, harden or hollow or stretch. And where are you now?
Finding a taxi, she felt like a child pressing her nose to the window of a candy store as she watched the changing vista pass by while the twilight descended and the capital became bathed in a translucent misty lavender glow. Entering the city from that airport was truly unique. Charles de Gaulle, built nineteen miles north of the bustling metropolis, ensured that the final point of destination was veiled from the eyes of the traveller as they descended. No doubt, the officials scrupulously planned the airport's location to prevent the incessant air traffic and roaring engines from visibly or audibly polluting the ambience of their beloved capital, and apparently, they succeeded. If one flew over during the summer months, the visitor would be visibly presented with beautifully managed quilt-like fields of alternating gold and green appearing as though they were tilled and clipped with the mathematical precision of a slide rule. The countryside was dotted with quaint villages and towns that were obviously under meticulous planning control. When the aircraft began to descend, this prevailing sense of exactitude and order made the visitor long for an aerial view of the capital city and its famous wonders, hoping they could see as many landmarks as they could before they touched ground, as was the usual case with other major international airports, but from this point of entry, one was denied a glimpse of the city below. Green fields, villages, more fields, the ground grew closer and closer, a runway appeared, a slight bump or two was felt as the craft landed, and they were surrounded by the steel and glass buildings of the airport. Slightly disappointed with this mysterious game of hide-and-seek, the voyager must continue on and collect their baggage, consoled by the reflection that they will see the metropolis as they make their way into town. For those travelling by road, the concrete motorway with its blue road signs, the underpasses and the typical traffic-logged hubbub of industrial areas were the first landmarks to greet the eye, without a doubt, it was a disheartening first impression. Then, the real introduction began. Quietly, and almost imperceptibly, the modern confusion of steel and asphalt was effaced little by little as the exquisite timelessness of Parisian heritage architecture was gradually unveiled. Popping up like mushrooms were cream sandstone edifices filigreed with curled, swirling carvings, gently sloping mansard roofs, elegant ironwork lanterns and wood doors that charmed the eye, until finally, the traveller was completely submerged in the glory of the Second Empire ala Baron Haussmann's master plan of city design, the iconic grand mansions, tree-lined boulevards and avenues, the quaint gardens, the majestic churches with their towers and spires, the shops and cafes with their colourful awnings, all crowded and nestled together like jewels encrusted on a gold setting.