Monday, August 16, 2010

Stone Story. Segment Two. Part 1

It rained hard all weekend. The Squire and the other stones were soaked - well, as soaked as a granite rock can get sitting in the rain. Rocks that have long been buried under the ground and have only recently been exposed to the air, do have what is called "quarry sap" in them. They are, to some extent , 'damper'. Even then, their moisture level is almost negligible, but a rock fresh out of the ground is far more workable than one that has been sitting on the surface for a long time presumably because of its moisture content. Builders have learned this and good masons try to make sure they use the stone shortly after it has been quarried. Even rocks that have been soaked under water for a long time, after having been sitting around many years on the ground, are still more brittle and harder to shape than newly exposed rocks. Fresh rocks with quarry sap are like new born babies: they are pliable and soft and full of life.

Granite rocks that are left out in the rain may not get any easier to work with, but they do regain some of their luster and original attractiveness. They have a happier disposition; you can see it on their faces. They shine and have a lively beauty about them which humans have often noticed and admired. It's the sort of look humans try to capture in photographs or try replicate by sanding and buffing stones, or applying different plastic liquid finishes. Regardless of all the hard work, it never looks as attractive as a naturally shiny wet stone.

The typical water absorption of granite rocks is .03 percent, not a lot of water for their mass. Their resistance to taking on moisture, their low porosity, is part of the reason they weather so well. Water doesn't get very far past the surface, and therefore can't do the kind of freeze/thaw damage that it can do to more porous materials like brick and wood.

Rhonda watched the rain coming down and remembered the days of her youth. For many, many years, soon after being separated from her twin back in the Mesozoic Era, she had travelled with a group of friends with the glaciers through what would later become Scotland and had discovered a rugged affection for the desolate geology of the area as she passed through. The constant damp cold, the lovely bleakness of everything back then, was something she missed. She had tons of happy memories of her journey southward as she made her long striations along the craggy Pre-Caledonian landscape; it was all so moving. Her years in that magic place had carved her and shaped her. By the time she arrived in Cumbria, having left her home in the north country for good, she had become a well-rounded and beautiful stone. All her rough edges had been taken off. She never forgot her rustic beginnings, back in the days when she was not anywhere near as polished or in as good a shape.

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