Tuesday, September 25, 2012

on stones, water, and gravity

I hiked into the hills behind the house today to fetch some stones to rebuild the stone steps that lead up the embankment to the irrigation ditch which runs parallel to the fields that are situated about 50 feet below the ditch.  To make this make more sense, here's a verbal schemata:



                                             LOW, VERDANT FIELDS

I did most of my stone hunting around the somewhat less high in the hills range.  There are so many loose stones on the slopes, it wasn't necessary to be a hero and hike across all creation to find the perfect ones.  But I was looking for big, flat stones that would be suitable for steps.  The stones that I wanted needed to be at least 18 inches deep and 24 inches wide.  And the thicker the better.  Heavier stones stay put better.  This stone is the last one I gathered, and it's pretty ideal.  I also liked it's pretty, blue color. 

One thing that I learned really quickly is that only a fool carries a 60 lb. stone down a slope.  Footing on the slope is unsure enough on its own without an additional 60 lbs. taxing your leg muscles.  Gravity is your enemy when you are carrying a stone.  It doesn't matter if you are going up, down, or across the slope.  That stone wants to tumble, and you do well to let it tumble.  I had a lot of fun selecting stones and then letting them rip down the slope.  They would come to rest toward the bottom of the slope, and then I only had to haul them a short distance, across the irrigation ditch and to the steps.  In case you're wondering, here's what the slope looks like.

The crest of the hill is a lot further away than it looks in this picture, and beyond that first crest there is a small plateau, beyond which there are several more slopes and plateaus.  Next week I am hoping to pack some water and possibly even lunch into a bag so that I can explore the hills more fully.  I explored them a little bit last year, but this year I want to hike them for at least four hours.  Life gets interesting as you ascend.  Here's another picture of the slope.

Those evergreens in the background are juniper trees, and around now they are covered in juniper berries.  I smash the berries between my fingers and sniff hard.  They smell like green gin.  

Here's the irrigation ditch at the bottom of the slope.  Notice how verdant it is compared to the slope.  The water in this ditch is not run-off from the slope.  The water in this ditch has been diverted from the river so that the people around here can farm and live.  Is it now starting to make sense why the ditch is lower than the slope but higher than the fields below?  If it weren't for this ditch, all the green along it and all the green below it would look like the slope.  The areas below the ditch that aren't irrigated do look like the slope.  Here are the steps up to the ditch that needed rebuilding, that were rebuilt.

Well, this post seems to be about gravity.  It's a down-hill post.  Gravity forces stones and water downhill.  Maybe it forces people downhill, too, down from the mountains and into the valleys, but of course people are not stones and water.  

1 comment:

Ptc said...

Beautiful pictures ! I like these all places & wish to go there !