Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Sound Step

There has been a trouble spot in our backyard. Actually there are many, but I am focusing on one in particular. It is highly visible and an eyesore. I had the mind to change that recently. In chats with my parents, we decided to clear the area and create a small wall in our yard.

Previously this area was home to tall cane grass and haole koa, as well as bare ground. I had cleared it before, only to have the weeds come so adamantly and swiftly back. It is a no go zone, a place you have no reason to walk into or near, lest you get a rash or bitten by some unnamed insect.

The area of discussion is under the canopy of the two large trees in our backyard. Initially, we simply wanted to clear the weeds and install a ground cover to prevent erosion and recurrence of weeds. The idea was to create a small boundary to separate the grass from the ground cover. The idea then matured into making a small wall and backfilling it with dirt, as this area is sloped.

Final decision? We would build a small wall, backfill, and plant to cover the area.

So we set out finding the acceptable wall material and ended up at Home Despot. We got these grey arborstones that look pretty nice. Then we needed fill material. We got the base material "crusha run" from Ameron, courtesy of Mr. Wong, and for the top layer we used about two cubic yards of Maui EKO Systems' blended compost.

About 3 tons of compost in our driveway.

After several days of carrying 20lb. blocks and carting tons of dirt, we finished the wall. This being my first time building a wall of any size, it wasn't without its troubles and doubts. After we had set the bricks in place, I contacted a friend of mine who is a landscape designer. I sent him some pics of the layout and he responded with what I feared. Since the wall was on slope, I would have to level the bricks so as not to slide down the slope after rain or erosion. Fortunately, we had not filled in any dirt yet. I reset the bottom row and then replaced the bricks.

I work in style.

Then came the carting and shoveling. I think in all, my dad and I moved about 3 tons of earth into this spot, with another ton or so of compost being set aside. Mom pitched in too, using the rake to level the dirt after being dumped, and watering.

It took about two or three nonconsecutive days to finish this project, but it was well worth it. Let's hope it holds up to the test of time...

Completion, without the plants.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Good Earth

"He had no articulate thought of anything; there was only this perfect sympathy of movement, of turning this earth of theirs over and over to the sun, this earth which formed their home and fed their bodies and made their gods. The earth lay rich and dark, and fell apart lightly under the points of their hoes. Sometimes they turned up a bit of brick, a splinter of wood. It was nothing. Some time, in some age, bodies of men and women had been buried there, houses had stood there, had fallen, and gone back into the earth. So would also their house, some time, return into the earth, their bodies also. Each had his turn at this earth. They worked on, moving together-- together-- producing the fruit of this earth-- speechless in their movement together." - Pearl Buck The Good Earth

This quote shot off the page and struck me as deaths poignancy. It humbles the reader, bringing him or her to the realization of time and place. Kind of sums up life in many ways. Impermanence. Change.

We each have our turn at this earth. Read into this sentence what you will. To me, it means that however important we may think ourselves, what metrics have you: land, money, popularity, love, etc., that we are only here but a moment. Our time too, will pass. We have our chance to do what we will, then we hand over what we have done to those who follow. We do have power and can exact sweeping change according to our desire, but it is forever fleeting and ultimately imperfect.

What did I make of my turn on this earth? This may be a question asked of yourself as age tallies its numbers. It may be a question unspoken, only you knowing the answer.
I'd like to say I did my best to be a just person. In a greater sense, there is no ownership, and we borrow what we have from the past and future. I hope leave the good earth in no worse shape than it was given, if not better. This may seems an impossibility in our day and age . It is also an unanswerable statement, for who really knows the power of their footsteps?