Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sitting On My Hands

While it may be true that it is easier to write about dry stone walling than actually build them, both activities are easier than sitting around on your hands.

Some time ago I wrote an article about it not being good to be away from stones too long. Writing about dry stone walls is a poor substitute but sometimes it's all you can do. The weather was harsh that winter in Canada. Where I live sometimes months go by without being able to build the walls that make up so much of my work throughout the rest of the year. This morning I am looking at the stretch of wall I finished several years ago when we first moved to Port Hope. It looks like it has always been there, nestling in amongst the tall pines and cedars.

The wall looks great. The weather doesn't. I can only think about walls today and contemplate why they look so good and seem to 'work' so well in any weather. Unlike me. I don't work well in really freezing weather. The best conditions for working are the cool misty days. I guess they remind me of Scotland. I seem to be able to build better walls on those days. As I work I sometimes imagine I hear bagpipes droning off in the distance . The timeworn elements of the craft feel like they are draining back into my hands and body as I work in the cool dampness. But today it is too cold. My hands would start to go numb, but not as numb as they would be if I was sitting around on them all day!

It's a funny thing about the word 'numb'. The silent B makes me think it is so cold, the word itself is starting to freeze phonetically.


  1. I found a way of using the cold to help me . I have been splitting large rocks in the old way.
    Pouring a little warm water into the beginning of a crack in a large rock. Each day the crack widens with the frost till the split widens to reveal a beautiful flat surface that no human has ever seen before.

  2. Cool Norman

    Jack Frost has very strong hands!

    John S-R