Friday, October 5, 2007

Rifts in Time and Stone

Friday, October 5, 2007
Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

Rifts in Time and Stone: From Table Mountain to Giant’s Causeway, from Washington to Ireland…

There’s no planning these things, they just happen…they arise out of a moment, a space, a glimpse into a pure creation, and sometimes our efforts to capture or instill them into a quasi-permanent state are just that, efforts…but sometimes they become the next painting, the next picture, the next piece of music, and something is birthed and becomes its own piece of the world.

I was challenged earlier this year, by a musician friend at Table Mountain Star Party outside Ellensburg, Washington, to set my double-strung harp’s levers so that one side would sound different from the other. Easy enough to do, but I’d been intimidated by the magnitude of unknown potential in the past, and had never done it. This time I did, and as a result, something very pleasing happened. Now three months later, near the cliff edge of Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway, I noodled around a second time with this new “tuning” on the little harp, and the sound became musical; and then a little more set, or codified, so that it began to make a statement, tell a story. And as this was taking place, I remembered its origin, on the high, flat top of Table Mountain, playing through the day before sunset, dark, and the night’s starry explorations.

The “table” part of Table Mountain arises, literally, out of the Ellensburg valley floor, as the top surface of the 17 – 5 million year old sequence of flood basalts known as the Columbia River Basalts, or CRB’s. The cliff edge I inhabit today however, arises out of the Atlantic Ocean on the far northern coast of Ireland, where massive 60-odd million year old columnar-jointed flood basalts , older cousins to the CRB, erupted and “paved” the geography of Ireland, as well as Scotland (Staffa Island and Fingal’s Cave) 20 miles north, now separated by 20 miles of open sea.

It isn’t the first or only time that I have sensed my harp strings creating a bridge…other times it has seemed to be a bridge out of life, as my hospice patients were dying. Today it was a bridge of time and space, linking two beautiful but vastly different (in appearance and age) landscapes. And it was a link “in” time, as only moments later another guest of the cottages came to listen, and said, as they so often do, how “rare and special” it was to hear a harp played in this land. Is it really so rare? That’s not for me to say because my experience is so limited, yet my experience of this past month has been consistent in this theme. And so once again I feel inspired anew to bring my harps to Ireland for a long and fruitful stay.

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