Dowsing for Genesis

Basically, wallers are spare-parts jobbers. The loose pieces of indigenous stone they collect and parcel out are really nothing more than the duft of earth’s crowning mantle. In rare cases, bedrock, stone’s “birthmother”, is present on a building site and can come into play as a defining element of a dry stone design.

Before starting a recent fireplace project, I went “sounding” (by pushing a steel rod down through the loam) in search of bedrock. I knew what kind of sides and top I wanted to build, the hope was to discover a bare ledge floor for the intended piece. Fortune smiled as I dug away 24” of soil and uncovered a smooth surface of primal rock. It even sloped toward the center, making it ideal for cradling a sizeable bonfire or modest campfire. Heavy slabs of arrow-pointed schist were laid, at grade, to create warming perches, extending over the work’s 11’ diameter sidewalls.

In its short life as a yard feature at a Marlboro, Vermont home, it’s already proved to be a daytime go-to place for round-tableau talks. As the stars come out on frosty autumn evenings, it’s sure to become a fire-lit cauldron for friendly conversation, as well.