The path project, on hold for weeks, finally took a step forward this past weekend. The split blue stone from the quarry arrived last week, three large pallets worth. The stone came in a variety of thickness and sizes, from half an inch thick to three inches thick, and from one foot in diameter to three feet. Weight ranged from 30 lbs for the thinnest and smallest to around 300 lbs for one or two monster stones. This was the material for the surface of the walk.
Starting this stage of the project was a little overwhelming. Not only were all the stones of different sizes but they were also all of many and varying irregular shapes. Somehow, we were supposed to sort through all the pieces and find the ones that would fit, in the right order, in the path. It was like putting together a puzzle, except many of the pieces weighed over a hundred pounds.
There were several of us working on this stage of the project and there was a bit of dispute over exactly how to get started. Stones were scattered all over the yard and the fact that none of them were magically fitting together became painfully obvious. Finally it was decided that we would start on the end of the walk against the house and I set a few stones down to get it started. From there it became a process of everyone hunting through the many remaining stones and trying out various pieces to see if they fit the emerging design.
After four or so hours of work (with a break in the middle) we were about halfway through laying out stones and decided it was time to quit for the day. We had reached the point where our tiredness was such that we were looking for the lightest stones to use (rather than the best stones) and were telling ourselves that the fits were “good enough” when really we knew they weren’t. A man can dig a ditch until he is ready to fall on his face from exhaustion, but you can’t work that long if you need to keep your artistic and aesthetic eye.
It was decided that rather than have all the remaining rocks scattered across the lawn for the next week that instead we would try to finish the “stone puzzle” on Sunday day. Teman volunteered to come down and stay with Grandma so I could come up and lead the project. On the way to Grandma’s on Sunday he picked up a diamond tipped stone cutting blade for the circular saw. With saw blade in hand I went home. Lachlan and I spent the afternoon finishing the task of laying out the stone.
The goal for the walk design walk was to have a natural looking border to the stones so I tried to avoid cutting them as much as possible but as the project neared completion and my selection of stones, and available space, grew more limited I had to resort to some cutting to make things fit. The stone cutting blade worked remarkably well (I did wet cutting, not dry) and it was, I admit, pretty cool. Look Ma, I’m cutting stone!
By the end of Sunday afternoon Lachlan and I had finished laying out the stones for the walk. The puzzle was complete. The project isn’t complete at this point because now finely crushed gravel (or sand) needs to be carefully spread under each stone to make them all exactly leveled to the same surface. This will be an incredibly painstaking procedure, but at least now the walk is in the general shape it will be so there is no great rush in the final refining step.
I somewhat wore out my butt and my right wrist in the course of hauling stones, and I nearly destroyed two pairs of pants, but I enjoyed working with the stone. Doing the project reminded me that I really enjoy working with stone (and wood, but that wasn’t involved in this project) and now I know that I also enjoy cutting stone. Cut stone has an entirely different effect than rough stone, but each has its place. Maybe some day I’ll have a chance to do more of it.Update: More photos here
Editor’s Note: Reprinted with permission from The Silverware Thief. I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I didn’t try. This work was done a week ago, on July 20-21.