The landscapers/masons have been here almost three weeks now and most of the stone work has been completed. After much soul-searching and some budget compromises, I decided to extend the original project of replacing the retaining wall where the tank had been removed to re-setting the front steps and walkway and replacing the little stone wall that abuts it. All of these areas were in pretty rough shape from: 1) not being installed right the first time; 2) from little night time creatures tunnelling underneath and 3) from large daytime creatures who removed supporting stones to make planting beds easier to dig. Not too mention that the NEW retaining wall made everything else look that much worse.
The brick steps and landing were replaced with two massive granite slabs that came from an old bridge somewhere in New England and unlike the brick steps which were starting to get loose from water damage, these two monoliths will be staying put and probably outlast all of us even the house.
The guy (landscape contractor) who is doing all this is Derek, a UNH Thompson School grad and his two assistants who all have an amazing knack for working with rocks. To see them start out with a pile of rough odd chunks of granite fieldstone and then pick stones that fit perfectly and match in texture and color with no gaps or bulges and with some beautifully manipulated curves is like the watching a quilter making a really complicated design--creating the templates; choosing the colors and fabric; cutting the pieces; and finally sewing the intricate seams together.
I know that there is art in both processes, one only has to look at a fireplace or landscape created by Lew French to know that masonry is as akin to sculpture as quilting is to painting. I'm just glad fabric doesn't weigh 168 lbs per cubic foot!