Laminate time

It began with a dull morning sky and specks of wet in the air, an almost alien substance by now, triggering ancient memory. By mid-afternoon it was a soaking rain, rattling the tin roof in time-honored manner. The greying shoots of rye and wheat sown beside the new road to slow down erosion might yet recover. The local dustbowl created by the Haflingers’ hooves will turn to mud. The cracks in the bare earth will begin to close and heal. The pendulum of nature will reaffirm itself.

The white rock sculpture exposed in the pond will start to be submerged again, simulating the erratic surfacing and drowning of Smithson’s Spiral Jetty. The Aztecs are said to have cut the hearts from their victims, draining their blood down the temple steps to encourage the sun to rise again the next day – each red dawn gorged with sacrifice. And until the rain comes, pouring down the cracked throats of every parched shoot, every desperate tree, no-one can be sure it will return, that the cycle might not have been suspended. Already the fields have turned grey, a step or two closer to desert. When the dust turns to mud and the weeds sprout anew, some of these surface rocks will be sucked back into the pasture, and the history of this once limestone sea-bed will be hidden again from view.

We seem insulated from tectonic transformations by geological time. And yet the current financial meltdown looses on the world Foucault’s spectre of the washing away of the human as the marks of birdsfeet on the beach are dissolved by the incoming tide.

Yellow Bird – with its Zygoptera (damsel fly) wingbeats at 60 per second, and its ordovician coral fossils some 450 million years old (sorry Palin), with its Civil War era pile of rocks on the ridge, its root cellar filled with domestic refuse, and its shadows of lost fields, is a vast theatre of laminated time, of pulsing rhythm and irresistible shifts, a medley of dances from the feverish and frenetic to a slow swirl welcoming death, inviting rebirth. Over millennia this same rain has scoured the limestone into living shapes that from time to time wake from their larval slumbers and crawl to the surface. Where we wait to meet them.