A Monument to Love
Inspiration, gut wrenching, tear jerking inspiration surrounds us every day; the trick to find it is to stay open.
It has been some time since I wrote my last blog. The activities at VTica have kept me in the gallery. Unfortunately I grow a little stale behind four walls. I need to be out and about encountering life. I am happiest on the road, open to whatever may happen.
The other day driving on the back roads of Southern Vermont I came upon a most remarkable site. Tooling along RT 30 just south of the Stratton access road, I became mesmerized by the morning light dappling the gently rippling brook. Just as I was about to direct my eyes back to the road, a field of stone cairns rose in view from the riverbed. Now I'm not talking one or two, I'm talking maybe a hundred or so in all shapes and sizes.
My car came to a screeching halt, pulling off onto a gravel turn-around. Making my way across RT 30 I found a gnarly dirt path that led down to the brook. There I stood with gold sandals on, not proper attire for wading in the gently flowing water. I stood there in amazement and just took it in. Some cairns were small, but most large, cleverly constructed, precariously perched between the rushing waters.
Who? Why? When? Was it a group of high school kids making their mark, or the community coming out to have some good clean family fun? All sorts of questions were running through my mind and no one was in sight to offer clarification.
The next day I returned to the site with camera in hand and attempted to document my discovery. A few passers-by also stopped to snap a cell phone photo or two. The follow day I dragged Robert back to the brook, explaining, "You are about to see the coolest thing ever!" There I stood in the brook, this time with proper wading shoes on, carefully maneuvering the slippery river rocks, meandering amongst the cairns. I was equally captivated my third visit and even Robert was sufficiently impressed.
The following day my cairn discovery was still talking to me, it was calling me back for yet another visit. At times like this, I don't ask questions, I just follow my gut. I thought this time I would visit in the late afternoon so that the setting sun would provide a perfect photo op.
I arrived around 5:30. With wading shoes on, I once again walked along the river bed taking in the magic of the waning light. There in the center of the brook was what appeared to be a boy piling rocks. I walked up to him and asked if he knew what was going on with all the cairns. He responded, "Yep, I made them." "All of them?" I asked, He responded, "Pretty much."
So my first question was, "Why?" He stood up, wiped his wet hands on his shorts, lowered his head, paused for a moment and said, "My dog died a few months back and I needed to do something for him." He went on to say, "I'm not the type of kid that goes home and plays video games or enjoys wasting time vegetating in front of the computer."
So every day for the past few months he has been coming to the brook, for 2 to 5 hours at a stretch, building cairns, as a memorial for his beloved Bull Mastiff, General. There I stood in the river, as the water rushed against my legs, weeping like a blubbering fool, reminded of the recent loss of my own beloved Newfoundland, another extra-large, strong, sensitive breed capable of melting your heart. Now, it all made perfect sense to me.
This strapping young boy's name is Grant. He is 25 years old. He has a job working at Stratton Mountain doing light construction and painting, and when days end, he heads home, feeds his pigs, and then heads straight to the brook. I'm sure that was the time he devoted to General, hiking in the woods and swimming in the local ponds with his canine buddy. Now he is left with just memories of his gentle giant. Every day, with the energy of a young man, he immortalizes his dog in the most unique and heartfelt way.
Wiping the tears from my eyes, I thanked him for all his inspirational work. I explained how his story touched me and how his cairns brought delight and smiles to all that encountered them. As I climbed up the muddy bank of the brook, I glanced back at Grant. There he was, crouched in the water, searching for the next perfect memorial stone.
This is the true definition of, a labor of love. The creek is his canvas, the rocks are his paint, and everyday he tends to his broken heart, by lovingly constructing countless monuments to General. Creativity heals.
You gotta love this boy!
Thank you Grant and thank you General for your profound inspiration.
Live in color,