Archive for November 16th, 2007

Yesterday I promised the full story behind the stone I call the Mother Rock.



Of course, you can see by the shape that it definitely has some feminine, Earth Mother qualities.    It looks like a pelvic floor to me.   It also looks like a vulva as well.   But that is not why I call it the Mother Rock.

This was a rock that came to me long before I had a labyrinth, or even this house.  

One day, when Jim and I were still living out at the farm, my mother and I went off to do some fence repairs.   At the far corner of the farm, the fence crosses Zae Hollow.   Zae Hollow has what the locals around here call a tank.  A tank is a natural place in a creek bed where the water has hollowed out the living rock forming a place that collects water.  A good tank has water in it all the time, even in times of drought.   Because the tank in Zae Hollow is a very good tank, we did not run fence along the top of the ridge next to the edge of the field, but down across the hollow so that the cattle would always have water readily available. 

Fences that cross hollows are subject to a lot of stress, and tend to become permeable to cattle because of that.   This is not necessarily a good thing, especially not when the cattle who have wandered off have a river to cross and miles and miles of essentially trackless wilderness to hide in.  

These fences had been subjected to a huge amount of stress in the weeks before we went off to fix them.  There had been some big winds, which threw large trees and branches at them.  The big winds had been accompanied by heavy rains, which ran off the fields, down the hills and collected in the hollows, where the floods picked up all the accumulated trees and branches and endeavored to float them through the fences where they crossed the hollows.   This is hard on fences, which are not really designed to withstand such forces.   

We wanted to put our cattle on the field above Zae Hollow in the next couple of weeks, in order to get them off the hay fields so there would be hay to mow later on.  We knew that the first thing a herd of cattle does when moved to a new location is find all the holes in fences that surround that new location.   So we were off to forestall that, and the subsequent exploration of the neighboring county that we knew was likely to ensue.

We had already walked around the perimeter fence unencumbered by tools to survey the repairs needed.   The day before we had gone out and done the “easy” stuff, things that require only splices, wire, fence tools, staples, nails and hammers.   Our job this day was considerably larger and more complicated.   Not the least of the complication was that it involved the water crossing down in Zae Hollow.  The only way to get there was on foot or horseback.  Not having any horses, we were walking.  From where we could safely drive the truck to where the job was was a brisk half mile walk, during which we would lose approximately 120 feet in elevation  (about the height of the Statue of Liberty).

Fortunately, we only needed two new posts, and since I was younger and (maybe) stronger, I carried them down into the holler.  At the same time, in order to eliminate extra trips up and down the hill, I was also carrying a white five gallon bucket that contained numerous staples, nails, splices, fence clips and a giant (18″ long) modified bolt cutter which was used to flatten the splicing tubes onto the wires they were splicing together.   There was also a come-along.   I was wearing my tool belt, which had hammer, fence tool, bolt cutter, pliers, and a pocket that could carry staples, etc.   My mother was carrying a roll of about 100 ‘ of barbed wire, a white five gallon bucket with her tools, a water bottle, and some coils of straight wire in it, and the fence jack.  Of course, we both were wearing gloves, long pants, hats and bug repellent.

We hauled all this stuff down to the corner that needed repairing, and spent about four hours rebuilding the water crossing that had been torn out by the spring floods.  This involved numerous trips back and forth across the section of fence we were repairing.  Someday I might describe just how one builds a water crossing in barbed wire fence, but not today.   Let it suffice to say that it is hard physical labor.  We finally achieved a fence that was (hopefully) impermeable to cattle, and loaded up for the walk back up to the truck.   We were no longer encumbered by the fence posts and wire, but we still had our tools and buckets, and tired bodies to carry out.

We had just barely begun the haul up the steep slope that was between us and the truck when I spied the rock that is pictured at the top of this post.  “Oh my, would you look at that!” I exclaimed.   We both paused, sweaty and breathless.   “What a cool rock!”  I added.

We looked at the rock, which, by the way, is a good 8 inches in diameter and weighs over 10 pounds, and admired it greatly.   I really wanted that rock, I even picked it up and turned it over a few times.   But I was already heavy laden, and very tired, and I really wasn’t up to adding it to my load.   “I really want this rock,” I told my mother.   “I think if I put over here on top of this outcropping, I’ll be able to come back tomorrow and bring it up the hill.”  

“Do you think you’ll be able to find it again?”  my mother asked me. 

“Oh, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to locate this spot again,” I replied, not really very positively.

We rested a bit longer, and then prepared to continue our climb up the hill.   “I tell you what,” my mother said.  “If you will carry this fence jack, I’ll carry that rock up to the truck for you.”  And she did. 

Whenever I look at it I think of my 64 year old mother hauling it up the hill for me in the humid Missouri heat, just because if we left it behind we might never find it again, and her daughter wanted it. 

Because of that, to me it will always be the “Mother Rock.”


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