Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Seeing by hand.

One of the most moving moments involving stones and hands happened in Seattle at the North West Flower and Garden show. We had completed a dry stone arch and a slanted wall in the three days leading up to the opening of the show, forming a dramatic entrance way to a lovely garden display which had been created by Exteriorscapes the landscape company that had hired us to come and do the dry laid work . The show was in its second day and it was late in the evening. I had been standing most of the day, watching but not talking to many people who visited the show, as it seemed more appropriate to stand back and let the landscapers handle questions about their exhibit.

I found myself studying the people as they walked by the arch, watching them stop to inspect the garden arch and then usually, take pictures and stand back to admire it some more.

The crowd had thinned out just before closing time when I noticed a interesting couple moving over towards the arch. He was a blind man and the woman who was obviously his wife was talking to him and describing for him everything in the show. They stopped at the arch and she spoke for several minutes and then took his hand and guided it over the contour of the stones in the arch.

His wife stopped talking as the stones started speaking to him. In the quietness of the moment we watched him feel along the the line of the stones suspended in an arc above his head. I sensed in my own limited way the energy, the wonder and the complex structural information that was being transmitted from the stones to his hands and on to the rest of his body. A smile came over his face as she explained to him that the stones were only supported by their own weight.

Those few moments as I stood there watching the couple 'experiencing' that arch have become a treasured memory. I have built quite a few arches since then, but I have never seen one as clearly as I did that evening through a blind man's hands.