“A Stick and a Rock”

PRENOTE: Today is Beethoven’s birthday.  Thanks to Molly for this.  Molly: Celebrate with this (or other) rendition of the 4th movement of his 9th Symphony!


This morning I awoke with one of those unfinished dreams: I was at a conference somewhere and the leader had given us an assignment, to come to the closing session with a stick and a rock.  We were in a country environment, but I wasn’t finding either.   I woke up….

Normally dreams don’t stick, but this one did, and at coffee I kept thinking about the unfound stick and rock, and what the instructors plans were for the upcoming discussion…what did this dream mean?


I’ve started a list and as Christmas (and very cold weather) approaches I offer some thought starters.

My first thought was remembering son Tom’s little canoe, which I watched him whittle out of a small stick in the Quetico Wilderness in 1992.  I asked about the project.  It was for his daughter Lindsay’s 6th birthday, he said.

So far as I know, she still has the keepsake, now 30 years old.


Then I remembered an event, and resulting Christmas card:

It was the snowman I saw at the Pond made famous by Henry David Thoreau, Walden, in the winter of 2000.  Some unknown person or persons adding to an already pleasant winter day in Concord MA.

Snowman at Walden Pond Concord MA 2000


Then came a card this year, the most recent of several, from Joe Stickler, retired Science Professor at Valley City State University, whose brainchild is the very interesting Medicine Wheel and map of the Universe adjacent to I-94 at Valley City ND.  Many years of student and community volunteer work have gone into this great project, this bed of rocks.  If you happen by there, stop.  You won’t regret it.

Medicine Wheel park Valley City ND

Of course, I don’t know if the above were the stuff of my dream last night, but they could well have been.

I have one other memory to add, which is in a file I know I have, somewhere here, but cannot put my hands on it at this moment.

Some years ago, my cousin Jim Pinkney, then a professor at East Carolina University at  Greenville NC, wrote a short essay about the Mandavilla, as it thrived in the shade of their house.   The musing had almost a spiritual cast to it, about the plants strategies for thriving.  When I find the file, I will add it here.  It was memorable enough to keep in a file of its own.  (There are lots of internet references to Mandavilla, if you wish.).  Jim died in 2009; he left this gift behind.


You’ve heard the proverb: “sticks and stones may break my bones”….

Here, I presented four positive ‘sticks and stones’ and I know there are many others that could be on my list, and doubtless on yours as well.  It’s all a matter of perspective.  What does a story like this mean to you?

May this season and the coming year be especially meaningful for you and yours.

Merry Christmas.

Here, preparing for the coldest week of the year so far….

Earlier related posts Dec 7, 10 and 14.

COMMENTS (more at end of post)

from Fred: Didn’t know it was Ludvig’s birthday. I prefer the Third Symphony for the celebration.

from Claude: I think you’d find this 19 page monograph of interest.

To entice you to look at the graphs at least and possibly wade through all 19 pages I’ll paste in the Abstract here:
The human enterprise is in overshoot, depleting essential ecosystems faster than
they can regenerate and polluting the ecosphere beyond nature’s assimilative
capacity. Overshoot is a meta-problem that is the cause of most symptoms of
eco-crisis, including climate change, landscape degradation and biodiversity loss.
The proximate driver of overshoot is excessive energy and material ‘throughput’
to serve the global economy. Both rising incomes (consumption) and population
growth contribute to the growing human eco-footprint, but increasing throughput
due to population growth is the larger factor at the margin. (Egregious and
widening inequality is a separate socio-political problem.) Mainstream approaches
to alleviating various symptoms of overshoot merely reinforce the status quo.
This is counter-productive, as overshoot is ultimately a terminal condition. The
continuity of civilisation will require a cooperative, planned contraction of both
the material economy and human populations, beginning with a personal to
civilisational transformation of the fundamental values, beliefs, assumptions and
attitudes underpinning neoliberal/capitalist industrial society.
Keywords: overshoot; eco-footprint; carrying capacity; sustainability; population;
Recently I’ve increased my interest in the Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion movements as my recent video collages will attest.


3 replies
  1. Jermitt Krage
    Jermitt Krage says:

    I hope you and your family will have a great holiday season. Loved this posting and all the others you have written. Thanks Bernard.

  2. Maryellen Weller
    Maryellen Weller says:

    And a very Happy Holiday to you and the whole family.
    Thank you for the reminder of humble things like sticks and stones. It goes well with the Christmas story!
    Medicine wheels of stones and a small carved canoe made from a stick—Perfect.

  3. Anna Himel
    Anna Himel says:

    Very thoughtful story as I am used to reading from you. May you and your family have a beautiful Christmas. We also are to be in the very cold variety of weather this Christmas. Not often here in South La.


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