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!)
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