Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Return of the Slate Shingles


The path so far.
Last fall while walking a nature trail along the Neponset River we came across a couple of workers tossing slate shingles off a roof (stop me if you’ve heard this before).
We stole the discarded diamonds out of a dumpstered slew, Anne descending into the maw to steal a trunkful of the dragon’s cache of largely unmarred roof slates. Me waiting on solid earth below, ready to play Orpheus to her Eurydice if circumstances warranted. Happily, they didn’t.
Our first thought was to replace a gravel walk in the front of a house. But we gave that up when it appeared that the roof slates, fetching though they are, would soon crack under heavy-footed use. We used thicker slate flagstones for that walk. You may have seen a photo.
Then we decided to use the rooftop slates in the back garden to replace some gravel paths in our maze of circular walks. The gravel is rather rapidly going back to nature and you can spend the whole summer picking weeds out of it.
So, before it got really hot, and sometimes when it was, beginning on one memorable occasion well before breakfast on a triple-digit-leaning day (afternoon session cancelled on account of perspiration overload), we dug out the gravel and a modest depth of soil. Then replaced the dirt with the gray stone dust and worked in the slates. I did the digging. Anne handled both the stone dust and the slate work. I’m planting some of the new borders now.
Here are some photos of the first loop. Since July has caught us in her hot-eyed web, I’m not sure how many more will follow this year.
But the results so far make me happy. Stone and plants love each other. I admire from a little distance.