ON BUILDING A STONE STAIRCASE AFTER A HURRICANE
(with added commentary by Cralan Kelder & Kent Johnson)
Cralan (in Amsterdam): I'm not sure i understand, how did you build a stone staircase?
new river rock? how did you shape it, or shape the stones? are they stones that were formed from human activity in the past, like cut.
Bob: Good questions!
I've never shaped a stone in all my working life with stone.
I take what I receive, make it work.
You remember our road in relation to the river — it's down over a high river bank (thank goodness).
Many trees came down full length with Irene and the flood, they lodged on an island we have in the middle of the river. Ravaged half the island in the process (took it away, gave us a new stone bed).
I began cutting the trees for firewood the past two weeks, but have to lug it to the bank and somehow get it up to the road. For some years now always cutting driftwood down there I have cut trees and split all the wood right on site. . .then between us, we carry the wood to the bank and I throw it up to Susan on the road. 15 feet or so.
That process is getting old with so much wood, and we're no younger. So I hand dug out a passage-way up the bank (think channel) and scalloped out sections for building in stone stairs, until I reached the road. Hook or crook. It's a dandy little piece of natural furniture, and right you are: all the stones (best flat) came down with Irene. I had used up all the flat stones available before Irene for other jobs.
Now it's cutting the trees to four foot length and shouldering that up the stairs to the road and the pickup truck. When the trees become larger (they will) I'll shorten the log length to 2 feet or less and split it right there and lug those splits up the stairs.
I had one worker pass by and it seemed like he was laughing at my stone tomfoolery. There's always a cynic.
Poetry best, Bob (liked your new one out of Africa)
Kent (also involved in separate cover, unrelated, same subject though):
I love the notion of cutting the stone stairway into the hill to bring the wood up. Something about form as an extension of content, there... Or is that the other way around? Or is it both, always?
Bob (subject matter on the email "Creelyish"):
I was down on the river today finishing up on building this stone staircase and had your crystal clear re-action to this job: "Something about form as an extension of content, there..."
I have to say, only from you this would arrive!
And I lugged more logs up the stone steps.