A Bird-Headed Stone

July 20, 2014

I awoke on Saturday morning invaded by thoughts that I should write about Cranes (Grus grus). This train of thought had been prompted by memories of my last visit to Cranbury Park, thirteen months ago. By early afternoon I had three crane-related posts on the go. This post isn’t one of them.


For the last few years this bird-headed stone, dug up in the garden, has adorned the cairn marking our chickens’ grave – at least, the two headless bodies found out of the three the fox got. It was heart-rending to lose our Kluxons (they had a collective name as we couldn’t tell them apart). Even as I write, for the first time I’m reflecting on the irony of a bird-headed stone marking the grave of two headless birds.


A few weeks ago we planted a pear tree on the spot (without disturbing the Kluxons). It was good to find, again, this special stone, so evocative in shape.


In my attitude to this found, natural object is an element of the fetishism decried by civilising rationalists like Max Müller, who saw in it the misguided adoration of objects that are ‘intrinsically worthless… stones, shells, bones and such like things’. For Müller fetishism was ‘a certain inferior disposition or weakness to which anyone at any place or any time is, in principle, susceptible’ (reference here).


So perfectly formed is this stone it can actually be stood upright on its smooth, level base to resemble some long-necked bird – an ostrich, rhea or crane – peering across the grassland or over the reeds of the marshes.


Such are the bizarre congruences* of chance that yesterday, as I was preoccupied with hopping frenetically between the writing of three crane-related posts, I was astonished and delighted to be greeted with this new post from one of the few blogs I’m following. It is a collage and accompanying text concerning The Legend of the Crane.


To quote from the text: ‘The Crane may conceivably be the oldest bird on earth; there is fossil proof that they existed over 60 million years ago. Greek and Roman myth tended to portray the dance of cranes as a love of joy and a celebration of life’.


* ‘Congruity is that apparent similarity between two (or more) things, actions, or ideas. Festus, the grammarian was also of the opinion that the words congruous, and similar derivatives are from grues, from Latin grus, crane [An etymological dictionary of the Latin language,  p.97], apparently from the sound of their calls which formed the root of the word ‘congruence,’ from Latin congruus, from congruere, ‘to agree’. This word reflects the highly coordinated and cooperative behavior typical of cranes.’

Retrieved 20/7/14 from http://www.constellationsofwords.com/Constellations/Grus.html

Edit: 20/7/14 at 14:42 – Ha! Just found this (without looking for anything) posted up on my FB!  Wallpaper Design, by The Silver Studio, English School, ca 1890.

Crane wallpaper

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