My project this week is focused on digging. Our “down yard” — the part of the yard that spills down a steep slope in the direction of Stonington’s harbor — is choked with granite rocks. Some are enormous looming crags, big enough that you can lean your shovel against them, some are man-sized boulders, and some are just barely peeking out of the ground.
The problem with all of the rocks is that they make the down yard impossible to mow. As a result, it has become choked with weeds. Our yard guy told me that if we can mow the area down low enough, it will kill the broad-leaf weeds, which he says aren’t hardy enough to withstand two or three successive very short clippings. Grass, on the other hand, is more robust, he says; it will survive the repeated chopping and will quickly move into the void left by the killed-off weeds. The result will be a nice grassy area among the jutting boulders.
I have no idea whether this is true or not, but his comment produced this project. The goal is to dig out the smaller, movable rocks so that a lawnmower can navigate between the remaining big boys and do its weed-killing job.
Digging out stones is happily mindless work. You don your work gloves to avoid blisters, take your shovel, and start chopping away at the soil around the exposed rock, trying to find an edge. When you do, you use the shovel like a lever, to see if the rock is even movable. Some are obviously too huge to move. But if the rock looks to be reasonably movable, you keep at it, digging away and working the rock loose, until you can wedge it out of its resting place and roll or carry it away, clearing a path for next year’s mowing. Sometimes you need to use additional ersatz tools, like two-by-fours, to brace up a big rock until you can lever it out of the hole — so the work also appeals to the keen tool-making interests of homo sapiens.
So far, I’ve dug and moved out dozens of rocks, large and small, causing Kish to question my sanity and rocky obsessiveness. What am I doing with them, you ask? I’ll address that in a future post.