COLUMN: Dedication to purpose not always fruitful

A week or so ago I thought, from all the banging, that there was something wrong with my furnace.

COLUMN: Dedication to purpose not always fruitful

A week or so ago I thought, from all the banging, that there was something wrong with my furnace. Upon investigation however, I discovered the source was more localized … coming from the window that lights the staircase between levels of the house.

There, from a perch on the deck railing, was a cock robin attacking his reflection in the glass. I’m not sure if he thinks he’s fighting an adversary or in love with his image, but either way he is persistent.

Every morning as soon as dawn breaks he’s back at it, banging away for hours, and making a hell of a mess, with hundreds of filthy little footprints all over the glass. Fortunately, mating season will soon be over and he’ll go back to expending his energy hunting worms.

However, while the robins may believe it’s spring, and that season officially begins today on the vernal equinox, Mother Nature seems to think otherwise. In all the years I have lived in Abbotsford I can’t remember as many snowy days as we have had this winter.

Despite no great accumulations, it seems every morning the ground is covered with a layer of snow, from a trace to three inches or more. And when it’s too mild to stick, it continues to fall or is mixed with the rain.

Fortunately, the calendar ticks off the days to warmer climes, something the ancients lacked on their kitchen walls.

Due to that failure in achieving such a simplistic form of ‘technology,’ they resorted to projects like Stonehenge to determine the time of the equinox in spring and fall, and the summer and winter solstices. Instead of hanging a calender, complete with colourful pictures from the realtor who lives across the street, they built huge stone monuments.

A printing error on paper is easy to resolve, moving stones weighing hundreds of tons is another matter.

And that is one of the major mysteries of Stonehenge and other enormous edifices. How were those ancient people, with no known form of technology, able to place the giant stones with such accuracy?

At Stonehenge for example, the rising sun casts a beam of light onto a reflector stone on only one day of the year, the summer solstice – the longest day of the year.

I wonder how many times they moved those giant rocks before getting it right, and how many years it took to determine the right placement?

I have been to Stonehenge in typical English weather, overcast with no sign of the sun: a rather difficult task to determine where the beam of light might shine when the sun isn’t visible.

So how was the erection of Stonehenge so accurate and, beyond that, how was it built? Five thousand years ago there weren’t trucks to haul the massive stones for miles, no stone-cutting tools we have discovered to shape them, and no cranes to get them upright and the lintels on the standing stones.

I’m not suggesting space aliens had anything to do with its construction, because recent studies of Stonehenge and other sites seem to have concluded that it was possible to build such structure with resources and techniques available at the time. So the major difference between the ‘tools’ we have now and what we can accomplish, and what they had then, is that it took them hundreds, if not thousands, of years to build such sites.

Now that, like the robin beating against my window, takes perseverance and purpose of mind that spanned not just years and generations, but entire evolving societies.

Just think what we could accomplish today if we were as dedicated to a single purpose.

markrushton@abbynews.com