When we bought our house, the front entry was graced with a brick planter full of rocks. It did nothing for the curb appeal of the place, and I imagine it didn't betoken much good, either, from a feng shui point of view. The following year we decided to add a porch, which would cover and enclose the planter. Before construction started, I rescued the rocks, many of which were, in themselves, quite handsome and substantial. The smaller ones were of two types, jagged and smooth. Compulsive that I am, I sorted them as I went. Smooth: More pleasant to walk on. Jagged: Better for fill. Yes, reader, I handled every stone. It gave the neighbors plenty of opportunity to speculate on what that crazy woman down the block was up to.
I spent several sweaty hours toting rocks to the back yard, and then arranging them along the south end of the garden, in the shadow of the rhodies, where nothing that doesn't love deep, dry shade would grow. The previous owners hadn't even tried, just blanketed the area with bark mulch. The rocks added visual interest, and that end of the yard looked fine until our new deck was completed, when I saw that the undulating brick border defined by the original owner, and emphasized by my pebbly filling-in, suddenly was All Wrong. The gentle curves clashed with the straight sides of the deck and left awkward and oddly-shaped no-plants'-lands, undefined patches of ground between border and deck that just looked... stupid.
What to do? After a series of 3 AM ponderings, I decided to obliterate the meandering border, remove the stones I'd so laboriously laid down, and edge the far end of the deck with greenery -- ferns and hostas and trillia and whatnot, plants that do tolerate deep shade. Additional suggestions are welcome.
So, yes, I'm handling these rocks, one by one, for the third time in two years. I'm beginning to recognize some of them. Once more, I'm sorting them into sharp vs. smooth. I do have my reasons: Phase II of the plan is to re-deploy the bricks in a pathway that will border the deck on two sides and, not so incidentally, eliminate most of what's left of the so-called lawn. I'm visualizing some artsy brick-and-smooth river rock combination that will be as easy on the eyes as on the feet. What will become of the garbage can full of jagged not-so-pretty rocks, hidden back by the compost bin, I do not know. Right now I'm all about smooth.
My husband pointed out yesterday that, in the context of geological time in which most minerals exist, these stones have led a very active and exciting life.