Thursday 9 February 2012: Wyatt's Wall
Sometimes I take off on my daily scoot, camera and Liza in tow, with no idea what I might come across. I felt a bit uninspired this morning but thought I'd just be open to whatever might present itself, as it often does. I wasn't disappointed.
From a block away I can hear the loud PING PING PING of hammer against stone. I remember seeing an excavation for a stone wall in front of a house a block off our route, so, confusing Liza a bit, I turn left where we usually turn right. There in the middle of the sidewalk in the middle of the block I meet Wyatt, an authentic stonemason. He's delighted when I ask if I can take his picture - his mom has been bugging him for a photo, he says, and he wants to show other members of his family what his work entails. We chat while I take a number of photos and Liza pokes around in the dirt and rock piles.
It's wonderful to watch someone doing this kind of work - artistic, challenging, physical. Wyatt has been doing this for about ten years and seems pretty content with it. I watched as he studied the wall, then studied the rock pile, picked out a stone, put it in place and either adjusted the other stones around it, or pulled it out to chisel some off of it. When I mentioned it was a little like putting a jigsaw puzzle together, he said, "Yes, but I get to create the pieces as I go."
Just last night I was thinking of this work. I watched Island at War, a Masterpiece Theatre production about the German occupation of the Channel Islands during WWII. (Fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society would probably like this movie.) There were several scenes involving building just such a stone wall and discussions about the skills involved. This isn't quite a lost art - there are still a lot of stone walls being built by hand.
I told him I'd be back to check his progress next week; he seemed genuinely glad for that. He was proud of his work. Liza and I went on our way toward the park, and I could hear the PING PING PING of hammer on stone.
Here's a web page that shows how to do it.
Here's a link to more photos of Wyatt and the wall.