Saturday, July 23, 2011

Seeing with my hands.

Working along a lake shoreline rebuilding an old dry stone retaining wall has presented a lot of challenges. The first two courses of stone have to be built under the water.

By the way, crocks prove to be the best footwear (yet again) for this kind of amphibious occupation.

After we took the old wall apart, sending some of the stones up over the bank and some of the bigger ones into the water behind us, we prepared the foundation and then started groping in the water to begin rolling the biggest stones back into position.

On the plus side, rocks are surprisingly lighter in water. Rocks that would be impossible for one person to move become easier to handle as long as you don't try to lift them up right out of the lake.

My hands became my eyes as I probed the translucent shallows looking for the right shaped stones to fit in each space I was working on in the wall. At Rocktoberfest we often have various dry stone walling competitions. I had considered in the past introducing a category of blind stone walling. Using stones from the lake, that can only be felt has given me a better idea of how a wall might possibly be built seeing only with my hands

As the wall grew in height I got better at judging thickness and shape under water, and even did some shaping of stones with them partially submerged. The water buffers impact and the exploding fragments loose their momentum in water.

I wonder about building a wall completely under water some day? Hmmm.

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