Thursday, July 16, 2009

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

I think it’s in the way the light falls, angling through the trees, hitting everything with a bright touch that is so alluring. Approaching Stonehenge, we traverse rolling plains. This morning gentle wind whips the summer wheat, and flips the leaves over. They look like schools of silver fish swimming in a blue sky. I have always wanted to see Stonehenge. With hippies for parents, I’ve know about this rocky formation for as far back as I can recall. What fascinates me and drives me most crazy is that no one knows for certain what it is, how it got here, and what the original purpose was behind its being constructed. The stones have remained, worn down by wind and rain, but the burning urges of the humans who created it have been entirely lost to the years that have passed. We’re left with only speculation; all that amounts to is scientific rumor.

Like all of England, the sky in the south is low and changing. Clouds roll over in fluffy groups, looking lofty from this vantage point, but I dropped down through them on the way back to earth and could see from the plane window how very close to the ground they were. They’re temperamental things, these clouds of England. A whole day of them may pass without even a single drop of rain. Alternately, it could be bright and blue and the clouds as white and airy as cotton wool and next thing you know, it’s a downpour.

We get hot coffee in the refreshment stand just outside the gates. It’s a funny thing about the British, you can find a pub, or six, in every small town, but coffee shops are reserved for shopping malls, airports, and, happily, busy places of interest. They also sell ‘rock’ scones, cucumber sandwiches, and brie, basil and tomato subs. We’re not hungry. We had cider and oatcakes at the campsite this morning.

We’ve arrived early so we sip our drinks and wait for the gates to open. Six little birds flit about the fence posts reminding us of our children. We try to catch a picture of them, but two fly off. “That’s about right,” I say. One of ours has flow the coop already, and the next in line will as soon as he can get his wings under him. Back at home baby birds had just hatched in a nest just over porch light. Just before we left they were so big, they looked stuffed into that small, grassy cradle. “That’s how I feel.” Our nineteen year old commented.

Aside from the birds, there are large groups of people arriving by the bus-load. We sit and, without seeming to stare, try to guess nationalities. There is an entire cricket team, looking smart in their neat shorts and cardigans. There is nothing more British to me than the wearing of shorts with a cardigan. Another group hosts a tightly angled accent. Is it highlands Scottish? Irish? There is one young man wearing a black T-shirt with a skull and silver chains on it. He’s friendly despite this garb, and is the only one in the group who smiles at me. I know, were my girls with me, this would be the one they would remember. While I’m off to get another coffee, they all get up and leave and Neil realizes there are not, in fact, English speaking at all.

With the caffeine coursing, we walk through a short tunnel and come to Stonehenge. Due to literally thousands of years of human occupation, there are numerous places in England that are just as interesting, old, and historically significant as Stonehenge. I have visited cathedrals where they’ve been saying Mass since the eleventh century. I’ve been to Lindisfarne, that water-ringed Island where Christianity first landed in these parts. England, and I suppose all of Europe, is rife with historical sites and ancient structures. Even with all of that, there was something mystical about this monolithic, geometrical stone ring. With the plains rolling away in every direction, it sits all on its own as the center of this small world. At intervals the stones line up. On the solstice, the sun rises and sets through these gaps. I can hardly think that was accidental. I stand in the exact spot and look through the gap in the stones. I can feel the weight of the millions of eyes that have gazed just so before me. Like the ping of a tuning fork, I recognize the magic that is at play.

Exactly half-way around the structure, we feel the first few rain drops. Absorbed in the ear piece, detailing the imagined history of this place, I hadn’t noticed the sky had darkened and the wind had picked up. Within seconds, it’s pouring. Neil gallantly gives me his rain-jacket. He’s wearing a polar-fleece, I’m wearing cotton. We’re camping tonight so with no way to get things dry after this, he deems I will have the worst of this after the rainfall. We try to stick it out, to continue to stand on the open plain and marvel at the monolith. The rain wins out. By the time we reach the tunnel, my pants and shoes are soaked, I drip and my feet squelch on the stone walkway. We stop in at the gift-shop to pick up presents for the kids.

When we exit fifteen minutes later, the sky is again a bright blue.

8 comments:

dragon said...

La, there is so much poetry in that first paragraph. You definitely COULD do something with this is you were so inclined.
I love the standing stones (and there are so many in addition to Stonehenge).
My son and I visited the Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland when we were over there.
wonderful times. Thanks for sharing.
Mariah

lakshmi said...

Hi Mariah!

I read the book Callanish, but haven't had a chance to go to the Isle of Lewis. Pretty much any place in Scotland is on my list to visit! Did you ever read Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series? The stones have a cool role in those books.

Someday I may revisit the stuff on this blog and see what’s worth working with. Right now, it’s a clearing house for what been happening.

Thanks for coming over!!!! <3

dragon said...

I love the Outlander series. I listened to most of them on tape, great way to get things done and still 'read' a book, and the actress who did the reading was wonderful.

take care,
Mariah

lakshmi said...

That series is why I started writing in the first place. I read the first book in England and loved it, came home and tried to find another good romance to read. I went through an entire paper bag of novels my mother had lent to me reading the first page and then setting them aside because the writing wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. Near the end, I thought, "This is ridiculous I could write a book better than any of these!" That right there was the beginning.

That was sixteen years ago! I'm still trying to make good on that statement. Amazingly, I still have hope! :>

I bet they would be wonderful on tape. I’ve already read the whole series three times over, however, so maybe in a year or two.

I’m leaving for the day in a minute, I'll catch up with you tomorrow. What does it mean that I’m hoping you get some interesting weather?
he he he :)

dragon said...

Actually, we are due for some 'real' summer weather for the weekend, Sunny and hot. only a slight chance of t-storms on Saturday night.
Roger is in Bend until at least Monday, so I have 3 days to do as I please (once I get past all the chores) so I hope to do some writing. I have some pieces I need to get ready to submit to the High Desert Journal by the end of the month and another piece I just started working on that I'll throw up on the Cabin when I get it out of the 'core dump' stage.
Cheers!
Mariah

el poquito said...

La,
Thanks for the journey to a place I've never been. How magical.

Your son's comment about the baby birds in the nest! I remember that not long ago with my sons. That feeling like your feet have outgrown the shoes. One of the hardest things as a parent, eh? Leaving the nest, or even sometimes helping move them along even though every fiber of your being wants to put them in lock=down!

Loved the six little birds analogy. Yes, you do have a flock there, doncha mama bird? Must be nice to be home with all your brood.

Enjoy home. Enjoy the memories. Go make more - lots more!

xo-e

lakshmi said...

Ed, I've been loving my brood up since I got home. I really missed them. And you're right--lock them down! Not really. They should fly the nest. It's okay, I now know I'll recover eventually.

It was nice to have time with Neil, though, and--let me tell you something--traveling was a whole lot easier with only two of us. But, nothing makes us up for their smiling faces and chirping talk. Next year, we're probably going to take them with us. :>

I'm glad you enjoyed visiting Stonehenge with me. We packed a lot into six days, so there's more to tell--who knows when I'll get around to it, though. I'll let you know if I do get something new up. And I'll see you back at the Cabin!

<3
La

White Eagle said...

Really great Lakshmi. "Lovely" is the word used, and I agree.

I need to rise from my chair now and grab a cup of freshly brewed French Roast!

Thank you.

John