In the shadow of the A Street Bridge, there’s a secret along the trail. Don’t bike by too fast — you’ll miss it. Take out your iPod headphones, runners; it will help you see.
Little sculptures have risen out of Chester Creek. It started a week or two ago. A dozen, then two dozen. Towers of rocks. Precarious stacks. Long rocks. Flat rocks. Fat rocks. Balanced like acrobats. Some a foot or two high. Others are just tiny piles, like cairns marking a gnome trail.
Aaron Davis-Meyer, a regular walker, has been monitoring the piles’ progress.
“I wouldn’t say they are beautiful. Mystical? Not mystical, I’m trying to find the word that’s close to mystical, not magical, what’s the word?”
Maybe mystical is it, maybe that’s it, he said, certainly also neat and mysterious.
“You wonder: Who made them?”
It’s kind of better not to know.
I sat on the bank for a few minutes Thursday watching people go by. If you happen to notice the rocks — many passersby didn’t — the big ones catch your attention first. When your eyes adjust to the darkness under the bridge, you see there are more, a flock of shapes. One looks like an eagle. Another a tiny seal. Look closer. A few consist of only one rock in an unnatural position, maybe a tall one with a sway back, set on a flat end, standing at attention. There are not so many piles as to looked cluttered, but enough to make you think.
They are ordinary objects, but they’ve been turned into little studies of opposites, of heavy and light, of delicate and solid, of movement and repose. Looking at them made me notice the shushing of the creek. Then I noticed the smell of the trees and the warmth of the day.
“When you’re walking up, you think there’s ducks in the water,” said Mary Smole, who has been taking her dog, Foxy, by the spot every day.
Then, she said, you see it’s something else.
Around lunchtime Wednesday Smole saw a guy with long hair building a few piles, she said. It seemed impossible the way he could stack the skinny fingers of rock so they resisted the pull of the water. She didn’t say anything to him, but she hoped he’d keep it up. It’s nice, she said, to have something like that in the middle of the city.
Nancy Tankersley strolled over. She works nearby and walks the trail on her lunch hour. She noticed the sculptures Monday. Somebody must have gotten pretty wet making those, but they were delightful. They reminded her of rock cairns she’d seen while hiking the Chilkoot Trail in Canada. Little works of art.
“I love art in nature,” she said.
They couldn’t last, she said. She was right. High water or winter ice or someone causing trouble would probably take them down. That’s the way it goes. Everything in nature changes.
Nearest to the shore was a marble-sized stone atop a flat triangle rock weighing down a dry heart-shaped leaf. All of it would fit in a palm. I liked that one best. It was like a postscript, one last token for the strangers who passed and bothered to take a look.