Friday, April 9, 2010

From whence cometh these ripples?

It's a rainy day here in Ontario today. Not a day for 'dry' stone walling. So many of us find other things to do when it's really wet outside, like writing and blogging. It is good to be dry. It's part of the job description. I think that before it was decided by the powers that be that we should be called 'dry stone wallers', they should have included other favourable aspects and requirements we would all like to see included in the job. How about 'content' dry stone wallers? How about patient, forgiving, generous, and warm dry stone wallers. Or how about funny, healthy, prosperous, good-looking, dry stone wallers?

In fact most wallers are warm people who usually have a dry sense of humour (even when they do have to work in the rain ) with a great capacity to see good in the things around them. They are not wet blankets, nor do they go around raining on other people's parade, especially if it is an annual parade where people have been cooperating and building together for years.

Instead of looking to find 'offense' under every stone, it would be kinder to just look to make a 'fence' whenever we can with the stones that we discover along the way. Even in the rain there is comfort in knowing we are making something structural and beautiful. It is far better to build with wet stones, even the odd surfaced ripply ones, than throw them at people.


  1. John, I enjoyed reading this very much. I've been fortunate to travel and build walls with some extraordinary people and converse with excpetional wallers from around the world through the Internet, and it always startles me what truly wonderful people wallers are. Once in a while I'm surpised to encounter a waller who speaks with negativity of another, or of a technique, or stone, or bond pattern, etc...and I realize they are really just being defensive of something they truly believe in...the latter part of which is a trait shared by wallers world wide. It makes me realize that I am very fortunate to live in such a diverse country whose roots can be traced back to stonemasonry traditions from so many legendary (and lesser known but equally inspirational) masonry regions of the world. It reminded me of a DSWAC festival a few years back when an executive rep from DSWA of Great Britain flew to Canada to observe the event. He was very enlightened and said to me how lucky we were to live in a country that respects the origins and structural guidelines of our heritage but are not bound by rigid formalities and free to express the limitless potential of working with dry stone. We had a lengthy talk as we worked on a wall together under the supervision of a master craftsman from Scotland who was showing techniques he was shown in New England. Then, in true Canadian style, we all drank beer and played guitar around a campfire until three a.m. What a truly unique role Canada plays in such a traditional old world craft. Thanks for sharing your passion with all Canadians! J.Scott

  2. Thanks John for making such a good point. Our diversity is something we celebrate in Canada. It is good to take this into consideration as we talk about standards and styles of walling. As we document and explore the various development of walling here in Canada I think it is important to not confine ourselves to one tradition.