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mill stones & crystal gumdrops

Benji and Mern bought a stunning property right by Huntington Gorge, and were rethinking the backyard after putting in a new a septic system. An old wall had been disassembled and was now in massive piles beside its former footprint. There was also a four-foot tall millstone, originally retrieved from the river by a farmer, after it was discarded by a mill that used to exist on the river. What a jackpot these materials were. 

The couple landed on an L-shaped wall designed for sitting. “Can we build this with the homies?” Benji asked one day. He and Mern wanted to include their talented friends in the build. We loved this idea. We proposed a workshop–a community walling day–where we teach the basics of dry stone walling and then offer guidance as the homies got to building. Benji and Mern were all about it. 

So, one Sunday morning in the fall, eight handy friends showed up with tools and open minds, Benji and Mern made some cozy autumn foods, and the group brought the L to life. It was so fun teaching this group, seeing how their skills in other areas–work turning, metal fab, carpentry, painting–translated to wonderful attention to detail, structural integrity and aesthetic interest. They worked in shifts, reminding us of a hockey team. A line would go at it until they needed a break, tagging out for some food and refreshments as another line came in for another go at it. They were learning something new together and just having a ball with it, even through unseasonable heat and a few pinched fingers. When the day was done, we had a beer together and took a dip in the gorge. The cold, crystal-clear water was the perfect wind-down to a full day.

And speaking of crystals, Lindsay found one of the wildest stones we’ve come across hidden in the mound of wall material, a piece of white quartz protruding like a gumdrop from a chunk of river stone. 

Location: Huntington, VT

Materials Used: local river stone, salvaged mill stone

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