Sliding Into Spring

This week I've been in our sugarbush hanging sap buckets, 215 so far. That may be as many as I put out this season. Our Windham County, Vermont property is typical of the region; rugged and steep. Covered in wet snow, as it is now, it's especially slippery. There are always more maples I could tap but getting close to them with the loader and gathering tank is the problem. Not to mention the precarious nature of totting pails full of sap across frozen side-hill. Maple sugaring; all the thrills and spills of a three ring circus.

Last week I was up to my ankles in sticky mud on a very different side-hill, one in Tuscany. I was assessing a property for possible stone art sites. On the first day I clambered down a stream bed and up a wooded draw, getting a perspective on the place and surroundings. After speaking with the property owners about their future plans, including the planting of a vineyard and olive grove, I developed two ideas for incorporating dry stone in the landscape. For the next day and a half I worked up scale models out of stone and mud. I find that sketching three-dimensionally helps me think through the process of designing an art work. The practical considerations inform the abstract ones, and vise versa. The model in the photo, above, was made to illustrate the idea of using a spiraling stone and wood ramp as a way to move vertically in the landscape.
The property owners are in the process of transforming the ruin of an old grain mill into a home for themselves. The roof had to be stripped off and new "old" timbers added. The head carpenter on the site cleans up a purlin beam with his bill hook, photo below. 

Another worker operates the overhead crane used to lift materials from the ground to the roof.

Over the three days I spent on site I was able to watch a fascinating construction, and de-construction process. A building that has undergone centuries of use and reuse, is once again re-purposed.