Yesterday I took a break from the never-ending battle against the onslaught of dandelions and built two walls in the down yard. One is intended to screen off an area where we’ll be composting yard waste, dead and dried weed carcasses, and other assorted debris, The other one, pictured above, will mark the edge of what will be a little flower bed in a narrow crevice between two huge granite outcroppings.
I used stones for the walls, because we’ve got a virtually inexhaustible supply of them, and thought about Robert Frost the whole time. I learned that trying to craft a stone wall can be a very enjoyable project. It’s messy and muddy, and you get to see what kind of crawly creatures cling to the undersides of big rocks, which adds to the overall experience. You get to lug stones around, too, so it’s pretty good exercise.
From an engineering standpoint, the key seems to be a create a level base for the wall, then find the right stones to fit into the right gaps, using the weight of the stones above to hold them all in place. After some trial and error and experimentation with different stones in different places, I ended up with two walls that seem to be sturdy and level — at least until the next big rainstorm. In the meantime, it was satisfying to actually do some manual labor with my hands, and see the immediate fruits of my effort. For white-collar workers, that’s not something that happens every day.