Friday, October 8, 2010

What does it mean?

A waller's hands often get really dirty during a normal day moving, lifting and hugging stones. These hands were building with an unusually dusty mica stone during a DSWAC dry stone walling workshop I helped run a couple of years ago as a lead in to the Stone Foundation's annual Stone Symposium held in Barre Vermont in 2008.

Evan Oxland's helping hands moved plenty of stone in preparation for that course, and then even more stone during the course of the four days of the workshop when he assisted us in the teaching. His hands and arms seemed to take on an eerie patchy camouflaged look (for some reason more eerie looking than the others who were also working with this grimy stone material). Cropped in this photograph it almost looks like they are the feet of a prehistoric bird or lizard. The dust had collected in blotchy pastel patches mostly where occasional big drops of rain landed on Evan's arms and hands.

They call it dry stone walling but it's other things too. Often it's muddy, dusty, sweaty or wet. While it is not often that walling gets as colourful as Evan seems to have discovered it to be, there are still a lot of hues to what we do. Our clothes get filthy black. Our faces and arms get weathered and brown. Our thumbs and fingers get blue. Our legs and arms get red scratches and our knees get grass-stained green.

There are many different tones in the tons of stones we use too. Pink granites. Yellow buff and brown sandstones. Greeny gneiss and black and blue basalts. Red rusty aggregates and yellow and white speckled quartz.

It seems fitting that such a spectrum of colours should accompany the broad range of experiences and pleasures associated with building beautiful dry stone walls and arches. It's kind of like a 'double rainbow'.

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