Rock Piles

Sylvia Shawcross

We didn’t go here before did we? Come with me now.

It’s a sunny spring day. You could wear a sweater if you like which you might take off and wrap around your waist later, after the hike up the sloping hill towards the far forest fringe.

Right now though it is best you wear your sweater because there is a touch of cool in the dampened grasses and the earthy path is soft in caress underfoot. Be careful for there are toads, small ones, those little wee ones that suddenly appear and then disappear into their miniature landscapes.

Before us, the fields are wide and open and shining in the new day’s sun and the song of birds saturates the air. It is the best time for the birds… early morning in the spring. They are robust with promise, playing for mates before the work begins. They catch the sky wind and clot on tree branches and hop and dance in search of insects. You can hear the flick of their feathers bursting from clumps of dried greenery.

There are fewer insects now then there will be when the heat arrives and the sounds of the fields hum and buzz. They are mostly content for the moment with some worms or beetles or sometimes an early caterpillar. They pay little attention to us as we walk, except perhaps the crows who are always curious.

We are near the foot of this hill but in truth if we turn and look we could see we are very very high up in the topography for this path leads up from the farmhouse by the road and beyond the land dips steeply for a long long time in furrowed fields to rest at the foot of an evergreen mountain. It is still misty there. Sometimes you can see deer foraging.

We are at the foot of the hill we are climbing. There is a stream running from the spring far right of us up another hill and a bundled hazelnut tree is budding early. It fills the space majestically there by the wooden bridge, a hodgepodge of logs crisscrossed and slippery wet. There is a scampering by the rush of water of some small animal. A rabbit? A mole? We cannot see in the underbrush. The violets that grow there are not out yet. The water in the stream is pure and cold from latent snow and will be fresh for later when we are tired. There are no tadpoles or salamanders yet to worry about when cupping your hands to drink. It is still too early.

Half-way up the hill you can see a cluster of bushes and that is what I’ve brought you to see. I don’t quite know why except it is something you must see now. At this time. At this time even in history. Something has told me to bring you here and so I have. I’ve brought you to see other things too but this is more important. It tells us stories we have forgotten or didn’t know or have never appreciated really. Maybe we can take its stories into our day now, into the chaos and contrived realities of modern life. Maybe.

We’re here now.

I know what you’re thinking. Why, you wonder, did I bring you here behind the bushes to show you a pile of rocks? It is a circular pile, about 12 feet in diameter and maybe 4 feet tall. There are all kinds of rocks but mostly flat grey and jagged brown ones. It is known as the rock pile in the far field and has always been a favourite place for inquisitive children who would poke and prod and lift up the rocks looking for snakes or lizards or treasures unknown. There is a fox den there too. If you look carefully.

It isn’t just a rock pile though. It is the sweat and dreams of generations. Of men and women who worked these fields of corn and peas and beans. The rows hoed and weeded and the pesky rocks taken and thrown or carted to the pile. For generation after generation. Different hands, different dreams. Rocks thrown by horse-drawn ploughs and aching bodies—hands rough and calloused. The hard hard labour—its testament silent in the sunny field. The fields now clear were once forests chopped and hacked and sawed and burned to make the wide gardens. A little more every year. Effort beyond effort. It was not a life that came easy. Not ever. For the ones that came from away.

The ones that came from away were pawns of foreign governments but mostly fleeing persecution of some sort, of poverty and overpopulation or war or fascism. The desperate fight for personal freedom. They came with a price paid we can only imagine now.

Some came with arrogance of class but the ones who worked the fields came only with hope and tools to build a life. It was a chance. It was all they had. And the first winters of this place when they came were wicked with snow and cold. Some of the hardest years on record. They lived in log houses they built until a generation later they could build a bigger house, a finer place, a place to raise the future. The logs of the rudimentary houses would then be used to make criss-crossed fences to keep out the deer and keep in the cows. They became a place to sit and rest.

And a person would stand on the veranda of the big house and know the sweet rest of centuries of toil. There were few rocks now for the pile. The fields were fine and smooth and fertile. Beyond, the forest was dappled dark and musky and ripe with moss and the scent of leaves. Let me take you there. It is not so far away. Through the opening there is a bit of a trail.

I’ll take you there but not for long. It is a tangle to get lost in if you are not used to it. That place. Keep your eyes out for the arrowheads. They are sometimes wedged in old trees or poking out of roots. If you dig them up they are still sharp and cool to the touch and you can feel a wilderness of worlds unknown now. They were made by a people now long gone who did not stay more than a season in any one place. They grew their crops in summer and went to the forest to hunt in winter.

These peoples did not mix with the ones who came from away much. There was so much land to share. This group anyway who were curious but contained. A gentle group. It was different for other groups. But this group did not take up their arrows for war. They shifted behind trees and scampered behind bushes and you would hardly know they were there. Sometimes they would trade furs for novelties but they kept to the forests and far fields. They did not understand the need to settle in a home for the earth itself was home no matter where you were.

They’ve gifted us now even after all these years. We will not get lost because we can follow the trees where they have left their marks, their blazes. We learned this from them. We could perhaps have learned more but they were often gone when we went looking. We did not do this often for the work was overwhelming. The rock pile needed piling. It was the way it was.

But let us go home now. We can stop and drink from the stream. I know you’re thirsty. Coming out of the forest we can see the sun is higher now. We are going to drive back to the city where most everyone lives now. And there, where the concrete burns in the heat and the loudness of machines and cars and the mockery of colours and sounds breaks into a bustle of random toil, there we can see the new ones—the ones who have chosen to move and live here in our country.

They are from away. We can’t know what the fruit of their labour will be in the generations to come because we do not know their hearts yet. They have not yet made their pile of rocks. And we scuttle in the shadows of buildings and shift behind lampposts and watch with curiosity. They are different than us and yet alike. We know their piles will be built with different rocks.

We are a gentle people for the most part. We are not ones for war. We hope they cherish this. We remember persecution. We remember the toil in a foreign land when some did not want us here. We were not the ones to take up arms. We only wanted a home. We want for them what we learned so they too can find peace. We can only hold their hands in a struggle we vaguely remember. We have left our marks on trees for them to follow so they do not get lost. That is what we can give.

The peace of a nation is what we have to offer. We have worked very hard to achieve this and for a very very long time.

Peace. Here. Now. Hold on to it. Do not throw the future away for past grievances nor divisive politics nor arrogances of religion when there is work to be done building a holding place for generations to come. It is your chance.

You are not your politics. You are a human being with children to raise and a world to find. Fight for peace. It is not time to build fences. It is not time for war. We are not your enemies. It is time to gather rocks, not throw them. We will help you if you want. We want to marvel at your rock pile just as you will one day.

Peace. Here. Now.

“Rebellion without truth is like spring in a bleak, arid desert.”
Khalil Gibran


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Dec 3, 2023 5:39 PM

It was the Napali Coast Trail in Kauai for me and my late Wife. It was on her bucket list. The trail head at the end of the road (north of little town of Hanalei https://www.gohawaii.com/islands/kauai/regions/north-shore/hanalei-town).

I was a long hike to a hidden beach. A steep climb of hundreds of feet followed by a steep descent. Slippery rocky trails mixed with slippery patches of clay sidled by cliffs hundreds of feet high that promised a quick death should you fall.

Some of the stretches were narrow and the local population liked to jog the trail. It was treacherous as joggers rudely and impatiently passed the numerous hikers. It was hard enough to assist my wife as she struggled to catch her breath and stay upright. Non small cell lung cancer had all but destroyed her ability to breath. At one point I thought I had lost her as she gasped for air in near panic.

She insisted on getting there. I was worried as we began our descent to the beach because we would need to return up the incline which was mostly slippery clay on that stretch of the trail. I said nothing. She knew what I was thinking as I stayed close.

A cool, rocky, mountain stream with a moderate current and thigh high water ran out into the Pacific at the beach. Rocks had been fashioned for hopping across the 15 ft wide stream. We waded the water in our Keen water/hiking sandals. (Few of the others took the time to read the guide books and hopped the rocks.) The water on our legs was so refreshing.

There they were. Dozens of undisturbed stacks of rocks. Rocks that had been eroded and smoothed over for millions of years in the mountain stream before being deposited for stacking. Monuments to prayers. Holy Land.

There was plenty of shade and larger rocks for sitting for the dozens for people who shared in our trek.

My wife’s scarf told our real story. We could sense their thoughts.

No one spoke as they sat and stared at the surf and the magnificent beach slightly below the rocks while sipping water and eating snacks to build a new supply of energy for the return after fulfilling their purpose.

No one swam. A home made sign was posted along the trail with the updated number of swimmers taken into the Pacific by the strong currents.

Sharing this has saddened and gladdened me at the same time.

It never goes away.


Dec 3, 2023 1:37 PM

Thank you, Silvia. I love your poetic writing, your acute observations and sharing of what only seems small, and the depth and the love in your thinking.

Wally Jasper
Wally Jasper
Dec 2, 2023 10:18 PM

Thank you Sylvia, Sanity, and Beauty (Bach). So good to hear this in these dark days.

Dec 2, 2023 10:32 AM

Yeah, the white people turned up as a diaspora of settler-colonialism; they worked ever so hard to establish an agrarian community; the First Nations as indigenous folk helped them out with turkeys; there was no industrialised war-machine, no violence, no broken treaties, no dispossession, just sheer hard toil rock picking hand by hand…. Look, this stone cairn proves it. “We built our life from nothing but Christian virtues and our innate hard work ethics.” Ah, the sweet rest of centuries of toil?

That is not the way it was. That is not the way it is. “Rebellion without truth is like a spring in a bleak, arid desert?” White settler-colonialism territorialised 86% of the habitable earth by 1914; fought two world wars (or one “thirty year war”) then set about colonising the rest which was achieved by at least 1992 and the highly racialised “end of history” (so-called.) During which time whitefolk – in order to extend and grow ‘western’ consumer civilisation – intentionally exported production in order to live off the Unpeopled property and prosperity of the Rest as net consumers of other ‘lesser’ people’s labour and materials provided pro gratis, de nada, for free (Hickel, Kallis.) This immense “net imperial appropriation” of completely othered Unpeopled property opened up an intractable and inverse-proportional chasm (“The Divide”) in white prosperity and black poverty; forever ending any mythological prospect of ‘equality of opportunity’, ‘distributive justice as fairness’ and so on.

In other words, whitefolk make fuck all and import other people’s productivity and natural resources – in effect for nothing – in order to extend their ‘conspicuous and vicarious’ (Veblen) consumer-Fetishism without conscience, remorse or regret. Closer to truth-telling: when the Third World is forever enslaved as an ongoing slow extermination camp or “necropolitical death-world” (Fanon, Mbembe); so-called white productivity is in fact ongoing black poverty as a structurally racist global division and redistribution of their labour.

In fact: if whitefolk did make their own shit as a “puritanical hard work ethic” as claimed, we could go a long way to reconcile and “level up” the purchase-power disparity and ongoing commercialised atrocity; but we would have to radically curtail and de-escalate current levels of consumer production as redistributive Degrowth down to a sustainable levelling our earth ecology could maintain indefinitely.

In brute fact: we continue do radicalised evil when we subaltern Unpeopled labour to our own consumer ends destroying ecology for the sake of consumptogenic market-fundamentalism. Which is never more banal whenever we “Click and Collect” another “Killable Black Friday” deal (“up to 60% off” the way we continually negatively evaluate their lives as worthless globally); withholding any compassionate thought about what that actually means; whichever is radicalised-banal evil-doing and extremised racially-pure thoughtlessness without compunction.

In brutalist fact: we could go a long way to “levelling up” by cancelling the holiday season altogether as ritualised holy days of racialised consumer violence (“Thanksgiving”; “Black Friday”; “Cyber Monday”); redistributing the resources to where they are really needed (wherever we expropriated them from). This would go a long way toward actual morality, egality, freedom, solidarity, fraternity and even the elusive liberty that we seem to worship as a righteous privation of their property as commodified white supremacism.

If we did make all our own shit as claimed; we would not have to extract surplus life, living, and liveability from those we deem less worthy of life-affirmation as an ongoing highly militarised and highly racialised civilisation-bound enactment of evidential evil. Also: we would not have to engage in racialised hygienics and sanitised ‘fairy-tale’ retelling of imperial colonialism as a mythic whitewashing of the greatest act of organised violence that is ‘our’ ideal official history. If only we could just say it as it is (legein ta eonta) as a truth-telling politics (parrhesia, isegoria) as Hannah Arendt wished?

Erudite black scholars have been telling us for at least a century that instrumentalised dominant factors of applied race (eugenics), extremely proactive settler-colonial violence, and unimaginable genocidal atrocity organised and structured the modern world as much as puritanical hard work employed in taking their land as unimproved terra nullis…. Our atrocity and violence becoming their puritanical hard work ethic across time. By ‘improving’ the land with ‘stone cairns’ is the rationale we employed to take the land into our ownership.

A good enough working definition of ‘power’ is getting entirely othered dispossessed people to do your work for you. That is how consummate white supremacy really worked to structure the contemporaneity of world-alienation. It is only us whitefolk that cannot bring themselves to say it: so we indulge in deracialised mental hygienics and immunological narratisation. “Good white truth anxiety” is probably the most pernicious and psychopathic mode of thoughtlessness. It is certainly the most radically thoughtless.

We could end global malnutrition, “make poverty history” and begin to lessen ongoing consumer atrocity by curbing our commodified appetites always for more gratuitous ego gratification afforded by others prodigious production and property whichever is never enough gratuity for us. Right now the earth and its Unpeople are at peak production in order to feed our “holiday psychosis” for collective megalomaniacal consumption. We could begin to redress the unsustainable imbalance for the price of a turkey dinner. We could do it now by reversing the exported production and making “stone cairns” with our labour-force once again – just like we do in our hygienic and apologetic fantasies of ourselves as ‘puritanically good hard working whites’ who cannot fail to see how the whole world is ordered “by us for us” as ongoing consummatory deficiency and dissatisfaction with the amount of free labour the Rest of the world provides; ongoing right until our egomaniacal consumer economy collapses the earth ecology for the greater commoditised ‘good’ (summum bonum medicinae sanitas.)

Dec 2, 2023 1:18 PM
Reply to  Bryan

The usual Regressive Left hyperbole and obscure jargon laced with neologisms. Red flag when the word “racialised” and the word “compassion” occur in the same text.

Is that you, Julius “Kill the Boer” Malema? Because Candace Owens you are not.

As if the black King of Dahomey had never sold black slaves from intertribal African slave wars to slave traders, never mind what skin colour.

As if non-white Arabs had not conducted slavery for 1400 years with the RN losing thousands of sailors in ending the Atlantic version after 1800.

As if N. African Barbary Coast non-white pirates had not run human trafficking for about 200 years in the Med, but also to Iceland and Ireland, ever seen the warning Saracen statues on Sicily? Or realised where Mozart got the plot of “Abduction from the Seraglio” from?

Well, Peter Bauer. Pascal Bruckner. Nigel Biggar. Etc. etc. etc.

For the literary side: “Camp of the Saints”

“We could end global malnutrition, “make poverty history” and begin to lessen ongoing consumer atrocity by curbing our commodified appetites”:

Npw why does this remind me of the WEF’s “You will own nothing and be happy”?

And Julius Malema here is doing just what Yuval and Klaus want, which is to split any opposition to them along racial lines.

Btw, as you are flashing Latin tags: it is terra nullius, not nullis, and your last quote means, “The highest goal of medicine is the health of the bod”y, so what are you driving at there?

How many jabs and boosters have you had? Last time I looked the US DoD running this mass murder effort had a nice share of “oppressed Othered Blacks” in uniform at high levels engaged in killing great numbers of US nationals, irresoective of race.

Dec 2, 2023 3:41 PM
Reply to  Jenner

I’ve got arthritis in my hands; I make typos — so what? There is no such word as “irresoective”; you make (lots of) typos too — so what?

There is no standard of judgement of statement making other than “correspondence” to actuality. That the world is structured racially is a brute fact. Consumer civilisation went to the next level when it exported production and manufacturing facilities to live off ‘financial services’ in the ’80s and so on. It all happened in living memory. Therefore it is all factual reality. Whitefolk live in conscience-free denial funded by other people’s labour and resources: not by hard work ethics.

The doctrine that the natives were not even capable of looking after their own land which had to taken away as the ‘white man’s burden’ is so well known I can’t see how it can be ignored. Thereafter: the symbolism of the stone cairn is far more sinister than is being revealed. The imperial ‘right’ to colonise Canada was as protracted, embittered, embattled and violent as anywhere else; but not a mention of it. It was all for the common good, after all?

The final quote is ironic. Translated as “The end of physic is our body’s health” it comes from Marlowe’s Faustus invoking associations of godlike power, fame, wealth and diabolical pacts for longevity and so on. The more we take from the earth to feed our consummatory egomania the less the earth will be able to support the sanitised violence of our greed. We could make much less and distribute it much further “for the price of a turkey dinner”; but we won’t all the time we can avoid facing ecologic reality.

Dec 2, 2023 9:00 AM

Fascinating and beautiful prose. Thank you. Perhaps just went to the city too quickly.

Dec 2, 2023 5:28 AM


I had a zoom meeting with relations who live in NYC this morning. Apparently living in that city currently is a bit like attempting to post on this site. The Zionism is suffocating.

Make The Best Of It
Make The Best Of It
Dec 2, 2023 12:43 AM

Make The Best Of It
Make The Best Of It
Dec 2, 2023 12:36 AM
Make The Best Of It
Make The Best Of It
Dec 1, 2023 10:35 PM

Wonderful. Some upliftig track also from me. Greetings.

Dec 1, 2023 10:15 PM

Most miss the meaning. It’s ok, I, as you, are used to this. The comments that don’t even come close to the context. Personally, I enjoy your writing. Thank you, brilliant and relevant to the world we live in. Peace? Yes, embrace.

Dec 1, 2023 11:30 PM
Reply to  Steve

“We are a gentle people for the most part. We are not ones for war. We hope they cherish this.”

Haiti? Barrick Gold? Chrystia Freeland? Ms Shawcross and her eager acolyte might care to check their understanding of pre immi-vasion Canada against the various books by Yves Engler.

Sean Veeda
Sean Veeda
Dec 1, 2023 9:55 PM

up the sloping hill

Is there a hill without a slope on it? Probably not in the UK, following the National Trust’s diversity drive.

Dec 1, 2023 7:15 PM

‘A time to cast away stones.
A time to gather stones together.
Ecclesiastes 3:5-7

Dec 1, 2023 6:30 PM

“The ones that came from away were pawns of foreign governments but mostly fleeing persecution of some sort, of poverty and overpopulation or war or fascism”

Shawcross skilfully empties in good liberal ….Trudeau-Biden-Sunak-Macron-Scholz… fashion the world “persecution” of all meaning by insinuating with OF that poverty and the next three nouns are persecutors.

Well, ” there we can see the new ones—the ones who have chosen to move and live here in our country.”.

They have chosen, have they? And the choice is theirs to make, is it?

How nice for the “educated”, the anti-Brexiteers, the Grauniad and BBC and CBC and MSNBC believers with a Shawcrossian love of Nature then that the new ones live not in leafy suburbs but

“where the concrete burns in the heat and the loudness of machines and cars and the mockery of colours and sounds breaks into a bustle of random toil,”

Dec 1, 2023 6:25 PM

I did go to a Justice for Kirsty gig, and I met her Mum…She got run over by a speedboat, off the coast of Mexico. The idea was to ensure regulation, especially in areas reserving for diving.
We know a bit about these things.. I think she was trying to protect her kids..diving with her.

But they cancelled our trip to Cozumel…and said you can go to The Maldives instead..

The Tsunami missed us…but we were told there was another one coming – and I said don’t be bloody ridiculous, and went back to sleep….So today…

My kid 35 years old turned up at 9:00 am, with his baby girl..and she was crawling as fast as she could with our new kitten..and they were like making friends – then she decides to get up and walk.

They only came for their Advent Calendars


Rhys Jaggar
Rhys Jaggar
Dec 1, 2023 5:32 PM

Ms Shawcross

One of the quickest ways to erode soil and create bare rock is to try and grow corn on sloping ground. Prof Russell Smith documented this in the 1930s when developing his thesis of ‘trees as crops’, highlighting that the best way to knit topsoil together on sloping ground was to grow a stand of trees.

The place to grow corn is on relatively level ground.

underground poet
underground poet
Dec 1, 2023 9:39 PM
Reply to  Rhys Jaggar

Dont tell them that in South Eastern Pennslyvania, they seem to grow corn occasionally at almost 45 degrees, it was hard to believe they were able to plant it, and runoff made parts of it smaller, but not a inch of space was wasted from what I could see from the hwy.

Erik Nielsen
Erik Nielsen
Dec 1, 2023 10:29 PM

Thats why its necessary with gene therapy on corn. Another area where God didnt make a very good job and someone downstairs had to step in and do it better.

“Grow corn at 45 degress” Bravo Great Satan, more fiat money to the bottom line, you did it.

Dec 2, 2023 8:01 AM
Reply to  Erik Nielsen

GMO – Genetically. Mon-slanto. Orchestrated. Round (Ed.) Up, harvested by Bayer, Today, without the legal patent liability for things like, … Glyphosate.
Aye Erik, the corporate colours & covers have spun full ⭕ I.G.Farben, add some laughter & Mustard Gas, Novichok Vodka and corny as it may sound, if they had just got Julie Andrews and some Nuns to sing that Sound of Music anthem….

Climb every mountain…

Monslanto organic Corn 🌽 promises Vertical Growth …
In every environment, 😂 (they have manipulated…)
Skol & seasons greetings.

Dec 1, 2023 3:44 PM
Dec 1, 2023 5:26 PM
Reply to  Edwige

Sounds ace! I think I’ll have one installed tomorrow/sarc 😂

Dec 1, 2023 8:01 PM
Reply to  Cloverleaf

I’ll happily sell you one I’m just taking out of a new build house I own & rent. It’s absolute shite and a family can’t have 2 lukewarm baths one after the other without waiting 2-3 hours !
I’m replacing with a good old condensing gas boiler and mains-fed unvented cylinder that heats a full 250 litre tank in 45 minutes.
Fuck this “new” crap.

Dec 2, 2023 3:18 AM
Reply to  DavidF

I wouldn’t want one of those contraptions if they were giving them away I’ve heard they don’t work 😕

Dec 1, 2023 3:37 PM

Beautiful. They said white man speak with fork tongue. Never has this been more true than now. Legalese is the tool to control humanity. Why do lawmakers require a law dictionary? written in English, where words take on a new meaning to deceive us all. FK the security services. FK the courts. FK lawyers they are all scheming corrupt criminals.

Pilgrim Shadow
Pilgrim Shadow
Dec 2, 2023 6:12 AM
Reply to  rickypop

One would think, that as intelligent and clever as lawyers are, that they’d be able to construct a legal system understandable by even the simplest of citizens, thus obviating the need for lawyers.

Paul Prichard
Paul Prichard
Dec 1, 2023 12:16 PM

Your alternative update on #COVID19 for 2023-11-29. Ex dir nat intel, John Radcliffe, says CDC director, Sec of State & dir nat intel agreed CV created in Wuhan lab (blog, gab, tweet, pic1, pic2, pic3, pic4).