Tag Archives: rocks

1975. Beach pebbles

There weren’t that many wave-worn pebbles on the beach. The beach was mainly sand. But there were enough pebbles for Otis to walk the beach and fill his not-so-big cotton bag.

The not-so-big cotton bag was also, in fact, not-so-small. Once it had been filled with pebbles (each between one and two inches big) the bag was considerably heavy. He should have started at the far end of the beach and worked his way back towards the carpark. But now he had to lumber the heavy bag all the way along the beach to reach his car.

“Never mind,” he thought. “I’ll make my way back slowly, without overdoing it, punctuated by many rests!”

Some of the pebbles were rather beautiful, especially when wet. The variation in colour was amazing. Some were clearly marble, worn down and polished. Others were simply grey rock, but they were important because they provided a contrast to the lovelier stones. Not everything ordinary is out of place. In fact, without the ordinary pebbles the multi-coloured pebbles would possibly look gaudy.

By now, Otis must have carried the bag for about half of the return walk. He stopped to rest.

The tide was coming in, and the bag carrying was made more difficult because he had to walk higher up on the beach in the dry and loose sand. Walking and carrying was definitely more challenging. But he had all the time in the world!

It was when Otis was only a stone’s throw from the carpark that the not-so-big, not-so-small cotton bag tore asunder. All his collected pebbles fell out into the sand. He had no other container to put them in.

“Blow it!” he thought. “I shall have to collect the pebbles next time, and next time I shall start at the far end of the beach.”

1885. Kent’s gabions

Kendall suggested to Kent that what his (Kent’s) back garden area needed was gabions. Kent’s back garden area was susceptible to flooding. By putting up gabions along the stretch of creek that ran along the bottom of the section, when it rained heavily the creek wouldn’t drown the garden he had so lovingly tended.

Gabions – in case you don’t know the word, as the writer at first didn’t – are basically a pile of rocks stuck inside a wire cage. They can look quite pretty. Artistic even.

Kent went even further. If he slightly dammed up the creek he might be able to use the water in the heat of summer to irrigate his plants. The dam wouldn’t be big of course. And he would be able to open it so that during a storm the water could flow naturally.

It was a lot of hard work, but Kent, with the help of his friend Kendall, created a flood-proof backyard complete with a little irrigation dam. It not only was practical, it also looked good.

One weekend, when Kent was away attending a gardening convention, it rained heavily. Kendall was on the ball. He went over to Kent’s house and opened the floodgates, just in case things flooded.

By evening the creek was a raging torrent. The gabions held the water at bay. There was no flooding in the garden! But my word! The streamlining of the water flow meant the water shot past at a terrific rate. It couldn’t spread out, so it sped up.

The neighbour’s back garden was completely flooded. The raging waters had simply washed all soil away to the sea or somewhere. There was nothing left but stones and rocks.

Rather quickly, Kent (with the aid of his friend Kendall) removed the gabions and dam and no one was the wiser.

1820. People in glass houses

People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones – or so the saying goes. Geoffrey Higginbotham lived in a glass house.

It wasn’t one of those garden glass houses, you silly person. It was a real house but it had lots and lots of glass; big (in fact huge) glass panes in the doors and windows. The view out was spectacular. The view in was zilch. The windows were tinted and acted like mirrors.

It had one disadvantage: birds were forever attacking their own reflections in the glass. There would be a WHOMP and a dead bird would lie on the path beneath the window. This could happen several times a day.

Geoffrey tried to save as many birds as possible as often as he could by throwing stones and small rocks at them to scare them away. I know what you’re thinking: people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Geoffrey never broke a window with a stone. Not the once. But there was getting to be quite a collection of rocks and stones on the path. One day, Geoffrey tripped on a rock, broke his ankle, and fell headfirst through a gigantic pane.

Which is the real reason why people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.