Warsaw is full of erratic boulders (Glaz Narzutowy), or 'erotic rocks' as my Slavic companion calls them. At the Geological Institute opposite Rakowiecka Prison (quite a contrast in itself) at the entrance on Wisniowa Street there is the largest (30 ton) erratic boulder in Warsaw. The picture below is the red granitoid of Piaseczno, the largest in Mazuria, the Glaz Mazur. The district of Mokotow seems particularly endowed with these wandering rocks. There are boulders in Lazienki Park, a stone circle at the entrance to the Biblioteka Naradowa, and a variety of rocks at the Museum of the Earth, and, in the small Park Malskowich off Pulawska (opposite Park Dreszera), there are 9 more. In fact, wherever you go in Warsaw, even in the front of shopping malls, you're never far away from an erotic rock. On the other side of the river, a whole street is lined with them, Ulica Traczy in Wygoda in Rembertow, a sort of alley of honour, each one a tombstone for the fallen officers during the war. With these boulders all over Warsaw and beyond comes an element of ‘deep time’ (a term coined by the Scottish Geologist James Hutton) that slips into the consciousness of the passer-by, albeit subliminally. There is movement too in those boulders despite their static appearance. It is a sad reality of over-developed cities in Northern Europe that these boulders have invariably been removed due to the successive layering of society and to make way for a four-lane bypass or another Starbucks, and never been relocated. They have simply vanished under the rationale that there is no ‘point’ to them and they take up space. That there may indeed be no ‘point’ to them is an astute observation, yet it is the body of the boulder that matters. Their massive one-piece size alone is enough to get the mind turning. In Glasgow’s Buchanan Street, there used to be a sculpture, honed from the bone of an erratic boulder, by the name of ‘The Spirit of Kentigern’ (the patron Saint of Glasgow). It came as no surprise that it was locally known for its misshapen features as ‘The Blob’. One morning they came with a truck and lifting gear and hauled it off. Of course, when people complained (the blob apparently had its admirers) the City Council promised its removal was only temporary in order to repave the street. That was five years ago, and there is still no sign of it.
At times I feel like an erratic boulder - Poland is the eleventh country I have lived and worked in during the past 13 years. Gilles Deleuze, a man who wrote widely on the nomadic spirit of man, spoke of man’s ‘sacred right of migration’, his duty almost, to go out and explore the world. I had always found ‘holidays’ somewhat limiting in the temporary perspectives they offered. TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) provided the opportunity I was looking for, to move and reside simultaeneously, errancy and residency, to really travel (and travail) a country. Here in Poland, when I watch the storks, themselves great migrators, seemingly lazing about spending whole days nest-bound doing nothing in particular, it is easy to miss the mass of internal work that is going on. The eating, the resting, the thinking, the slow build-up of energy, the storing of such, in anticipation of the next move. Erratic boulders (or teflers) are no different. Living inter-glacially, it is only a matter of time before the wandering begins again.