A Story in Stone


The best two days in the life of a dry stone project are the first and the last. The first day is full of anticipation about how the great unknown will reveal itself. The course of the work has been formulated in the mind, but the process that will lead to an end only begins when an actual stone is laid. That initial stone sets in motion a chain-reaction of events, a series of choices that ultimately determine the character of the finished work.

The first day is like opening a novel to page 1. You may know the book’s length by its heft, and the plot by a brief description on the cover, but you’ll have to read all the way through to become intimate with the characters and experience all the juicy details of their adventure.

The last day is a relief, especially when the end of the project is having its heels nipped by the dogs of winter descending. The work is in place, hopefully for a long time to come. Cleaning up the site is gratifying.  Removing the last of the stockpile (those few stones that had been passed over, and over again, for inclusion in the construction) means there are no more choices needing making. The story of the work has read itself aloud to me. I turn the final page to hear the words, “The End.” 

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4 Responses to A Story in Stone

  1. farmerpam January 8, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    I have never read anyone describe so eloquently what I feel when I’m working with stone. I just got in from a snowshoe hoping to find some sign of the project buried in the snow beneath my feet. I held out, working as long as I could, until those dogs of winter caught up with me. So glad I found your site. Can’t wait to find the time to read more. Rock on!

    • Dan January 10, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

      The snow cover makes a good excuse to step back (with snow shoes on) and reflect on the walling season past, and, even better, start
      thinking about new things to build in the season to come. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  2. T.J. Mora December 11, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    Your work is such an inspiration. I really like the elegant stairs to the bottom of the waterway for cleaning it out. I’m guessing that was your intent. Thanks again for all your inspiration. T.J.

    • Dan December 12, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

      Thanks, TJ. The steps lead to an artesian well overflow (4″ pipe through standing stone). A bronze lion head fountain goes on the end
      of the pipe. It’s a nice place to go for a cold drink of water.

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