Monday, September 22, 2014

Between a rock and...well, you know

 I’ve got stones.

(photo courtesy of lonestone)

I grew up on a very Great Lake, and I wanted to bring a little bit of home to our homes here in NC.  One way to do this is with the great stones that form the threshold between the land and lake. 

In my last house, these stones formed a ring around a very large cutting garden.  (I hope that garden is still there…I planted it over the course of about five summers and it was a ton of time and money.  I am afraid to drive by the old house, just in case it has all gone to heck. I would be sad and would have to come home and have wine.)

This house has gardens already lined with cool old handmade brick, so stones were not necessary.  How could I bring a little bit of the lake to Brandywine?

Enter one really ugly fireplace, faced in red brick. (It’s in an ugly basement, so it’s hard to even see the fireplace ugliness.  Ugly on top of ugly, multiplied by ugly.)  If we covered some of that brick in stones….
The first step in this project was to get enough stones.  This is tricky.  Why? These are NY stones and I live in NC.  Then there’s the dilemma of having to get my hands on enough of them to cover the fireplace.  I knew I could probably buy some at a gravel place, but I had a budget, and that budget was $0.

Enter my mom.  Every summer she says “When are you coming up here?” and every summer (and sometimes fall and sometimes winter) I go.  I loaded two huge buckets and a couple of boxes into the back of my SUV and headed north to my lake. This is where it gets tricky.

Apparently, over the last 2 decades, the threshold between the land and the lake is getting narrower.  This isn’t necessarily a problem, except at the causeway.  If they don’t do something, pretty soon we’re going to have cottagers on an island that wasn’t an island when they bought the cottage.  So the state has been bringing in more rocks in order to shore up the shoreline.

And you can get arrested and fined for taking stones.

When my mom informed me of this, I considered making it a covert operation, driving down to the shore in the dead of night, smearing my face with coal dust and wearing all black.  And then I remembered that I didn’t heat with coal, so the dust was a no-go.  Plus, at night they padlock the roadway that leads down to the stones.  Unless I wanted to walk about a mile back and forth a bunch of times to get those suckers, I was not going to be able to collect the stones at night.  I was just going to have to wing it.

Enter my SUV.  With NC plates.  I could go down to the shore, load stones in my buckets and boxes, and claim that I was from out of state and ignorant of any illegality. I had to do some recon to see if there were any signs posted with regard to stone gathering, and then it was time to put my plan into action.  I drove down the causeway, parked my SUV on the side closest to the water, popped the hatch, and started taking handfuls of stones from the beach to the buckets.  This went on for about fifteen minutes, and I had one bucket full and had begun on the other.

Enter the truck driven by the young man from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.  He was approximately twelve years of age.

“Ma’am?” (Okay, I know he was trying to be nice, but I cringe at the use of ma’am.  It means I’m old.)
“Ma’am, what are you doing?”
“I’m collecting nice rocks to take back to North Carolina with me.” (I am saying this in my southern accent, which most southerners would say I sound like south Pennsylvania.  But to someone from central NY, it’s probably ‘south’ enough.)
“You can’t take those rocks.”
“Is this private property? I’m sorry.  I thought this was a public beach.” (I knew full well it hasn’t ever been private property.  It’s always been “The end of Port Bay,” which means anyone can go there and do whatever.  And many high school kids do whatever there.)
“It is public, ma’am, but you can’t take those stones.  It’s illegal.”
“Really?  There are all kinds of these stones here.  Why would it be illegal to take them?”
“We’re trying to preserve this strip, ma’am.  We’re bringing in new rocks all the time.  You can’t take them.”
“What is the punishment for taking them?  And I don’t see any signs about this.  I believe you’re pulling my leg.”
“No ma’am, it’s just common knowledge.”
I look around.  “Son, I’m from North Carolina.  How would I know that I can’t take these stones?  And how do I even know you have any authority to tell me?  I’m very disappointed in all this.  I drove all the way here to see this lake that everyone says is so great, and I’m not sure, but this looks like the ocean to me, and I’ve already seen an ocean.  And now I can’t even take a few stones as souvenirs.  I am so disappointed in this trip.”  With that, I shut the trunk and got in my car.
The poor boy was so flummoxed, he didn’t even bother to get out of his truck to see how many stones I had. 
While he was pulling his truck off ahead and to the side, I managed to maneuver mine back onto the road and up the hill as fast as I could safely go. 

I was an outlaw with a bucket of stones.


(Of course, as soon as the resurfacing with the stone was done, DL had to put a big television over it, so now you can’t even enjoy the handiwork!)

(A close-up)

In case you’re wondering, I did fill the second bucket and the smaller boxes.  But I can’t tell you where, because then the stones might disappear and it’ll become illegal.  Let’s just say it’s another place where the high schoolers do whatever.)

If you ever need stones, I know a secret place.  Just make sure to bring along your southern accent.

I would love for you to visit each of the other blogs who are participating with me
in the Fetsival of Fall, hosted by The Everyday Home blog and Barb Garrett.
Each day will be a different theme, and I am sure you will
love seeing all the great projects presented each day -
so please come back and see what's new.
Monday: Fall Crafts
Tuesday: Fall Recipes
Wednesday: Fall DIY
Thursday: Fall Decor
Friday: Fall Home Tours


Rita C. said...

This is too funny. I hope they're not reading your blog. The mantle looks great. And I'm glad you didn't have bugs. We were talking to some people once at a recon (no, huh-uh, we'd never do anything like that!) site similar to yours, and they said they loaded up river rocks in their van and ended up with chiggers!
Rita C at Panoply

Laura @ Top This Top That said...

ha....just blame it on being stoned. I have to remember that for next time.

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

best story ever and so kirby- i love it!

andi filante said...

Okay, one of the greatest posts ever. You DO have stones!!!!!


Art and Sand said...

Leave it to you to make the poor guy think he was doing something wrong.

I would love to hear the stories of you talking your way out of difficulties when you were a teenager.

Cheryl Thornton said...

Wow - definitely a story to tell in your later years...but also what a great momento of the place you grew up...glad you didn't have to write this from the "clink"!!

Cheryl @ The Creative Me and My McG

Andrea said...

Ooooooooh!!!!! I know someone who got stones from Lake Ontario (shhhhhhhh) and drilled holes in them to make candle holders after making one flat edge to stand....just passing that on in case you ever have a surplus of, um, contraband!

Maureen Wyatt said...

I would stop reading your blog after hearing of your thievery but my daughter and I have stolen so many rocks over the years that we expect to really confuse geologists a thousand years from now. They'll be busy trying to figure out how rocks from Nova Scotia showed up in Ontario and and Ontario rocks ended up in Nova Scotia.

Danni@SiloHillFarm said...

You are so funny and so clever. Good escape plan! I have buckets of stones from a river in Montana that Sam is very tired of hauling around. Wish I had a fireplace. Yours looks gorgeous!

AnnMarie aka Vintage Junkie aka NaNa said...

I love your stories about home and this story is so funny!! I live here and did not know taking stones from the lakeshore was illegal! How beautiful your whole wall must be! It will always be a wonderful reminder of home for you.....and how naughty you were!

Cheryl in Wisconsin said...

I understand how you feel about your garden at your old house. My house had been loved and tended to by a wonderful woman. Then it fell into the hands of some neglectful owners. Then I bought it and loved it back to life. I caught the owner that had loved it once, driving by and checking it out. I hope she felt comforted by the things I had done for the place.

Karen Feral Turtle said...

You're such a rebel! Love it and I love your handiwork! Gorgeous!

Fox and Finch Antiques said...

I am surprised that so many people thought this was funny and gave you kudos for stealing public property and boasting about the lies you made up before, so you would be ready if you got caught.This post made me sad. I am pretty sure you will remove my comment but you should actually remove the entire post. Admitting that you stole public property on-line is as stupid as actually doing the deed and then lying about it.

looking silver said...

I think I am disappointed. I was waiting for you to say that you 'fessed up and returned the stones because you knew it was the right thing to do and without them, it would erode your hometown shore. That your conscience for justice and teaching children got the better of you and you had to put them back. I still think you are a great story teller though.

La Verne

Fox and Finch Antiques said...

You are absolutely right, I did not know that this was a work of fiction or satire and perhaps that is written on your ABOUT ME page which I have not read and I was a new follower. It sounded like the other commentators thought it was a DIY project, too. We had a situation in the little town I live in where someone was taking all the flowering plants from the bridge and sidewalk planters. When the police finally caught him, he said that the flowers belonged to the public and he was the public. I still had this in my memory. I guess it is a testament to your writing ability that I thought this was non-fiction!

miss flibbertigibbet said...

I have read all these comments and am in fear for your continued freedom. What if someone tells that 12 yr old where you are? Gasp!! i have a solution.....I will send my husband to NC with his truck. We will take the evidence to Virginia where we will cleverly disguise them as a backyard fireplace. No one will ever know and my lips will be sealed. I hope you have learned a lesson here and you turn from this life of crime!! case you decide to continue down this dark path, I have been thinking of adding a pond to the yard and would be willing to help keep you from going to the big are my dear friend after all......

Tina@WhatWeKeep said...

Sorry that the newbies fell for your shenanigans, but now that they've been initiated into KirbyWorld all shall be well.
I love your adventures!

Suzan Sweatman said...

Love this story ( I have a similar one with huge rocks lol ) and LOVE your stone fireplace -

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