Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Walling on the lefthand side of the road.

It only makes sense that wallers in Britain wall differently than we do here in Canada. They have been at it longer and it has developed and is developing differently than it is here. It would be unreasonable for them to suppose, or worse, insist on driving on the left whenever they came to Canada for a visit. There would be calamitous complications

But at the same token it is no more our business telling the Brits how to wall than it would be to tell them what side of the road to drive on when they are in their own country. That we can agree on so many principles of dry stone walling is wonderful. It is tantamount to discovering that the normal mode and mechanics of transportation along roads in both countries is basically the same. i.e. that generally we travel along roads in motorized vehicles having at least 2 wheels and that we must avoid bumping into each other, any stationary objects and of course people.

That we have some differences of opinion about things like whether we should all stop at major intersections for interminably long red lights instead of smoothly meshing with cross-traffic at roundabouts is where the temptation to compare the logic of one system over another begins (whether it be walling or driving). There are some things they do right which we would do well to emulate or at least to try to promote. And here we are all doing our best to encourage that very thing at the DSWAC.

Of course when it comes to the rules of the road the biggest difference between the two countries is the issue of which 'hand' side one drives on. It is also the most arbitrary. I now ask myself is there a dry stone walling equivalent to this?

I would suggest that while we in Canada strive (rightly or not) to build new dry stone walls and garden features, the British strive, with what's left of their still many miles of traditional walls, to primarily maintain them.

They, so much of the time, are constrained to rebuild these walls taking into account the elements of the local style (working in the accepted method of construction and utilizing the peculiarities of the local stone ) at the same time recognizing the wall's historic context, and functionality, while we in Canada are literally able to build walls along a number of new roads.

While we don't need, nor want to 'reinvent the wall', surely we can take the opportunity presented to us (in this new time and place) to explore our options, and perhaps adapt, avoid or just 'loosen up', if necessary, some of the 'rules' where they are proving to be traditional formalities or unhelpful contrivances.

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