quartzite boulders in the lower yard
Sunday, May 1 2005
I could tell I was coming down with a head cold this morning. There was that sharp quasi-pain thing going on in the plumbing somewhere behind the nose and above the back of the throat. It seemed all that hard work outside barefoot in the damp April chill was about to pay dividends in snot. I ate three multivitamins, the richest source of Vitamin C in the house.
But I wasn't about to let my health get in the way of my project. This morning when I took the dogs for a walk (the entourage included Suzy, Ray & Nancy's dog), I took the hand truck to the tiny abandoned bluestone mine near the Stick Trail that I call "The Dead Deer Mine" in honor of the bloated corpse I found near it late last fall. There I loaded two pieces of bluestone. One was so big and thick (it was over eight square feet in size) that I couldn't lift it; I could only roll it. With much effort I managed to get it back down the Stick Trail to just below the house, where I later picked it up with the pickup truck (entering the wild and overgrown lower yard through a little-used access ramp lower down on Dug Hill Road). Unfortunately, though, I managed to shatter that big beautiful piece of bluestone in the process of unloading it from the truck (but I could still use the fragments).
At some point Ray and Nancy headed off on a trajectory that would eventually return them to Brooklyn, allowing my increasingly feeble hosting efforts to die a merciful death.
I directed all my energy today at the retaining wall sub-project, extending its length a little past the south end of the house. To supply my continuous need for large regular stones, I made several trips by truck to the lower yard, where there is (it turns out) an inexhaustible supply. Interestingly, many of these stones are obviously not from around here. They're rounded boulders, usually made of quartzite and either white or pink in color, very different from the native thin-bedded bluestone of the bedrock. There are so many boulders that I can't help but believe they're part of some sort of small local glacial moraine. There's a strange hundred-foot-wide north-south slice across the topographic map that cuts through where our house sits and I'm inclined to believe that it used to be home to a side stream of the greater Esopus glacier (which used to advance southward down the Esopus Valley in a direction opposite to that of the creek presently in the valley). Perhaps because it ran closer to the mountains than the bigger glaciers to the east it transported an unusual number of hard boulders. By the way, few or none of these quartzite boulders are bigger than about three feet across. I can usually lift even the biggest ones I find.
Later in the afternoon I laid a drain tile behind the south end of the retaining wall and then backfilled over it all the way to the new desired contour and finally returfed the surface with bits of sod I'd set aside.
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