Thursday, July 9, 2009

Square 34: Stone

Square 034

My friend Paula is a landscape architect. She called recently to see if I could help her install a patio at a friend's condo. It is a new kind of project for both of us. A lot of soil and gravel needed to be moved. My body has responded sometimes ungracefully to the change of pace, with back spasms and heat exhaustion. But I enjoy working outside, getting in shape, and getting to know Paula better. We're a pretty good team, and at times my contribution has been palpable in terms of ideas as well as brawn.

The patio itself is an interlocking design with rectangles of different sizes. It requires precision and a good eye. Paula noticed that I'm patient with measurements, so much of the stone laying has fallen to me while she works on other aspects of the design, particularly the pond.

To cut the stones, she rented a heavy hydraulic tool called a guillotine. It slowly presses two thick blades into the stone until it snaps along a clean line. I spent two days cutting pieces to fit around the edge of the patio.

Paula suggested that I would make a good stonemason. She observed that I was "really into it."

"I've worked with many people," she said. "Some are good with stone and some are not. I'm okay with stone, but you have a natural affinity for it."

I've always thought of myself as a water person, but her comment was interesting. As a teenager I built a rock garden on our bluff overlooking Lake Erie, and at Lake Fletcher I have built a woodland garden with stepping paths made of naturally-flattened pieces of granite found around the cottage. Come to think of it, I have always loved working with stone.

You never know what paths may open.

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