Growing up, in the rear yard of the house, was a black rock. It was rather large, maybe three or four feet across and maybe a foot an a half tall. I may be misremembering the dimensions because, at the time, I was smaller. I am not enough of a geologist to divine what kind of rock it was, and not enough of a landscape architect to know why it was plopped down there. It didn’t seem to be native to where we lived, so I can only assume that it was originally meant as a design element, because I can’t believe the local Potawatomie tribes left it there as a sacred object, or that Archange Ouilmette (the wife of the French-Indian trader who gave his name to the town) had dreams of being featured in Better Cabins and Gardens.
It was uncomfortable to sit on and touch; being very rough, it looked like the remains of some igneous development on an island, like the inside of an Aero bar (the candy, not the triathlete’s equipment.) Tucked away in the corner, it was in the midst of some trees, a big pine, an old elm, a peeling birch. It was my hiding place in my youth, though it was never very hidden, especially in the autumn, after the leaves had been whisked away. Thinking back on it now, I wonder why I chose such an unforgiving environment as my “special place”: A sitting rock that was almost untouchably uncomfortable, a hiding place that left me completely exposed.
I can only assume it was my modern equivalent of a hair shirt.