Maine Chronicles: Adventures with Stones

Maine Chronicles: Adventures with Stones

There is always magic swirling around and I never know when the next crazy thing will happen, but last week I found myself on an unanticipated and spontaneous adventure in a granite quarry here on my new island home. And yes, it was magic.

When Beau and I first arrived on the island we stayed with a nursery school teacher who has relationships with many of the most interesting people on the island, stemming from their childhoods. With the collapsing stone and granite foundations of our house needing attention, she mentioned in passing, and in a rather cryptic manner, that she knew someone who "specialized in stones".  Not knowing exactly what to expect, we reached out and found that this was Alex Turanski, and though not a stonemason who could help us re-build the failing stone foundations of our new farmhouse, he is getting his MFA in “Intermedia” (art using or involving several media, like dance, slides, electronic music, film, and painting, simultaneously), and his specialty is sculpture and rock stacks.

Given the mounds of huge rocks about to be removed from our cellar, and the mysterious piles of rocks dotted all through the forest on our land (marking overgrown apple trees hidden among the huge pines), we decided to reach out and see where this connection might lead – perhaps a rock stack or sculpture in the forest? 

Alex came by last week to make a sketch of his concept for a structure in the forest, when he spontaneously invited me to come with him to a stone quarry on the island.  Now a nature preserve, the Settlement Stone Quarry was once the source of granite for such important structures as the Brooklyn Bridge, the Kennedy Center, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and more.  The perfect playground for a rock stack artist!

Alex was like a kid in a sweets shop, picking up huge boulders and balancing them on their pointy ends.  That's when we found a pointy outcrop of rock with huge cracks on either side, and he knew a rock needed to be balanced there.  It wasn’t an option to just walk past this and do nothing. 

Standing in the position of the rock stack

Alex went on walkabout for a couple minutes before discovering the perfect stone for the job.  I would describe it more like a boulder. An immovable boulder.  But he crouched down like a weight-lifter, picked up this rock, and carried it to the magic spot. 


Standing at the edge of the outcrop, Alex studied the spot carefully, before putting the stone in position.  “How can he possibly make that thing stand on end” I'm thinking to myself, snapping away photos of this entire process. 

Like a rock Houdini, he wedged a couple of tiny pebbles at its base, and then put the huge block of granite into position, almost in a trance, steadying this thing, becoming master of it, and then, it was done. He let go. Gently tapped the stone a couple times.  The block was in balance, and he walked back to admire his work.

Granite is part of the landscape in this part of Maine. Farmers have been clearing the granite rocks from their fields for centuries, foundations are built with enormous granite stones, the granite ledges underwater contribute to the amazing shellfish population around here. Stonington, the name of one of the 2 towns on Deer Isle, must refer to the stones. 


As a parting gift the first time we met, Alex gave Beau and I a special deck of cards he created.  Rock Stack Playing Cards. Each card is a different rock stack. These are such a fun project, we want to help him find happy homes for these fun packs in our Gifts (“Game Night Gift Box") and Marketplace. Both options allow you to choose where to donate a portion of the proceeds, as well as supporting Alex as he completes his MFA.

I can’t promise the addition of these cards into your life will produce the same rock stack magic I experienced in the granite quarry, but the likelihood is very high!




1 comment

  • Billy : July 11, 2023

    The world needs more Cairns…
    There is much more beauty to stones, that
    Meets the eye! Rock on!!!

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