Cool Idea of the Day: Stone Walls and Author Appearances

On a stunning summer morning this past weekend outside the Samuel H. Wentworth Library in Center Sandwich, N.H., Kevin Gardner, author of The Granite Kiss: Traditions and Techniques of Building New England Stone Walls and Stone Building: How to Make New England Style Walls and Other Structures the Old Way (both published by Norton's Countryman Press), discussed the history, significance and changing attitudes about stone walls in New England. (Among the many striking facts he recounted is that one estimate of 250,000 miles of stone walls in New England, enough to reach the moon, is likely a low figure.)

While he talked, Gardner used at least a hundred small rocks of all sorts of shapes and sizes (like typical rocks in New England) to create a miniature stone wall on the table where he stood. Besides giving him "something to do with my hands," he's found that building a stone wall during his talks keeps "the focus of the audience"--and nicely illustrates some of his points, including that traditional stone walls don't use mortar.

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