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Posts Tagged ‘rocks’

5becce96818cc.image_Photo: Dani Hemmat
The elongated rocks seen above are called lithophones and are used to make xylophone-like music. Found in Colorado as well as other parts of the world, they are 6,000 years old.

Do you sometimes imagine being a person in a completely different period of history? What would it feel like? One thing I’m pretty sure of: you would behave has if your time period was the only one.

But today, let’s imagine living 6,000 years ago, before the European invasion, in what is now Colorado. Let’s imagine having an urge to make music.

Dani Hemmat writes at the Left Hand Valley Courier, “Colorado has rocks that, well, rock. They are called lithophones, and a local archaeologist who first came across these strangely shaped stones 40 years ago is finally sharing their musical story.

“Longmont archaeologist Marilyn Martorano first laid eyes on the long, baguette-shaped rocks almost four decades ago, as a volunteer at what is now Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in southern Colorado.

“The clearly hand-shaped stones, which had been discovered in the area, were housed in the on-site museum when Martorano first saw them. They were a strange set of artifacts for which no one had yet determined a use. Martorano put them back into their drawer, assuming that someday someone would figure out their purpose.

“Thirty years later, Martorano borrowed the rocks from the museum to study. While many had postulated that the rocks were tools for grinding, the absence of typical marks led Martorano away from that theory. She studied for three years, without success.

“The day before she was to return the rocks to the museum, a friend sent her a video that showed a collection of stones from Paris — stones that looked exactly like those she’d been studying. The rocks, musical stones classified as lithophones, had been found all over the world, but never in Colorado. After watching the video, Martorano started tapping the mysterious stones, and their purpose was suddenly clear. …

“ ‘The rock is very dense, usually volcanic, granite or basalt. In order to be shaped, it can’t be hit too hard or too soft,’ Martorano said.

“She presented some of her findings and artifacts during her open-to-the-public presentation on Nov. 8 at Front Range Community College (FRCC). FRCC instructor and Niwot musician Michael DeLalla had heard about Martorano’s work on public radio, and reached out to her. …

“Martorano demonstrated the different tones achieved by hitting the lithophones with wood, antler and bone. The lithophones produce sounds ranging from the sound of tapping on a crystal glass, to a wooden marimba, to a xylophone.

“ ‘Out of the 22 artifacts we studied, we got a minimum of 57 notes out of them. That’s at least two different notes from each stone,’ Martorano said. …

“While most of the stones Martorano has studied have come from the San Luis Valley area, lithophones have been found in the eastern plains of Colorado and near Salida as well. One Colorado percussionist, Jeff Shook, has found several lithophones while digging post holes.”

More here.

 

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The first two photos today are from Wayland Square in Providence. My husband and I thought the shade covering at l’Artisan looked like something we could use at our house, but by the time we walked back from dinner at the Salted Slate, the pretty covering had gotten all twisted up by the wind.

The flowers casting early shadows are Marsh Mallows. The little frog in New Shoreham also cast a long shadow. In the next photo, perhaps you can tell that the herring gull is looking for more of my sandwich.

There’s a sliver of moon above the hanging basket. Hope you can see it. Next is a sample of New Shoreham’s lovely fields and stone walls.

My older granddaughter wanted to know if the car with pink eyelashes was mine. No, but maybe I should think about getting eyelashes for the Fusion.

One of my favorite views is looking down the bluffs to the ocean. Often there are surfers riding the waves at this spot. Finally, see how my youngest grandchild cooks breakfast for me in the playhouse.

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A bouncy boat ride in heavy rain last night. A warm sunny morning. Here are a few photos from my last island weekend of 2015.

An especially nice autumnal theme for the Painted Rock. Whoever painted it was lucky to have their artwork survive nearly three days. That would be unheard of in the summer, when birthday messages get painted over by wedding felicitations several times a day.

Down the bluffs on a steep path. Waves breaking on the beach. Tide pools.

I was delighted to find a little urchin (I don’t think I ever had before) and a slipper shell with a smaller slipper shell hitching a ride.

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You know that Adam named the animals and T.S. Eliot the cats. Now Maria Popova at Brain Pickings delves into a Native American author’s book on the naming of mosses and other aspects of the natural environment.

“To name a thing is to acknowledge its existence as separate from everything else that has a name,” says Popova, “to confer upon it the dignity of autonomy while at the same time affirming its belonging with the rest of the nameable world; to transform its strangeness into familiarity, which is the root of empathy. …

“And yet names are words, and words have a way of obscuring or warping the true meanings of their objects. ‘Words belong to each other,’ Virginia Woolf observed in the only surviving recording of her voice, and so they are more accountable to other words than to the often unnameable essences of the things they signify.

“That duality of naming is what Robin Wall Kimmerer, a Thoreau of botany, explores with extraordinary elegance in Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses (public library) — her beautiful meditation on the art of attentiveness to life at all scales.

“As a scientist who studies the 22,000 known species of moss — so diverse yet so unfamiliar to the general public that most are known solely by their Latin names rather than the colloquial names we have for trees and flowers — Kimmerer sees the power of naming as an intimate mode of knowing. As the progeny of a long lineage of Native American storytellers, she sees the power of naming as a mode of sacramental communion with the world. …

“Drawing on her heritage — her family comes from the Bear Clan of the Potawatomi — Kimmerer adds:

In indigenous ways of knowing, all beings are recognized as non-human persons, and all have their own names. It is a sign of respect to call a being by its name, and a sign of disrespect to ignore it. Words and names are the ways we humans build relationships, not only with each other, but also with plants.

[…]

Intimate connection allows recognition in an all-too-often anonymous world… Intimacy gives us a different way of seeing.

More at Brain Pickings.

At the suggestion of Brain Pickings, I am deep into a biography of Beatrix Potter and her scientific work drawing and learning the names of mushrooms. Like mosses, they are multitudinous but generally lacking common names.

Photo: Robin Wall Kimmerer

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