Bench Season

Maple season has come and gone. Only weeks ago the ground in our bucket orchard was under the spell of winter. Now it’s awake, naked to the sun. As the snow disappeared we collected and boiled sap, enough to keep ourselves, friends and family in pancake syrup until next March.

Some people call it mud season; those weeks when the frost goes out of the dirt roads, turning them from boilerplate hard to marshmallow soft. Until the back roads dry out and firm up again it’s a gamble driving off-asphalt. The stonework site options are limited, too. Weight restrictions on many roads mean no stone deliveries. Digging footings with heavy equipment is a mud wallow. It’s best to tread lightly for a while.

It’s a good time of year to tackle the smaller projects. Trenching by hand isn’t so bad if the shovel work can get done in the cool of the morning. A bench can be assembled with a minimum of loader travel across a spongy lawn. This month I’ve realized two designs. Both are basic, three-stone constructions but with personalities all their own. One relies on interlocking opposites, while the other counts on monolithic mass, to stand and stay put.