#15: Building Schrödinger’s wall
If you can't see the stone wall because it dips underwater, is it really there? What if we all gave ourselves more peace about our “productivity” not being a constant?
Have you been to Storm King, the 500-acre outdoor sculpture museum in the Catskills of New York?
On my first visit there, last weekend, I gravitated toward the stone walls of Andy Goldsworthy. (Perhaps most well-known for his Spiral Jetty in the Great Salt Lake.)
I have miles of stone walls and other structures on my farm in Vermont. I wanted to compare notes.
Andy’s crew built a 2,278-foot-long stone wall for Storm King. It’s beautiful!
We happened upon a father-son team from England repairing it. They are two of the five referred to in the title of the other Goldsworthy installation at Storm King, the nearby Five Men, Seventeen Days, Fifteen Boulders, One Wall.
They were just at a wedding in New Hampshire and Andy asked them to stop by Storm King and repair a section of wall that was tilting from the uplift of tree roots.
Can Andy send them to my place next? The walls criss-crossing my land are generally in worse shape than Storm King’s, having seen no maintenance for the last 100-plus years.
People who came before me on this land built well more than that.
Also, I want them to build this:
What you see better in person than my photo is that the stone wall disappears into the lake at the bottom of a hill. It them re-emerges on the far side and climbs another hill to kiss the Storm King boundary at the N.Y.S. Thruway.
Why the stone wall through the lake?
I hear they use it to rotate the fish from one side of the lake to the other. It prevents overgrazing.
But seriously, I was surprised to hear that the donor for the project doesn’t like the wall, but also doesn’t regret his decision to fund it. He considers it a sunk cost.
Did you hear? they named the underwater section Schrödinger’s wall.
Got any other dad jokes for this occasion?
The above-ground wall took weeks and weeks for a team to build, all dry-laid without mortar. They used 1,579 tons of fieldstone. They can’t have really continued the stone wall construction through the 500-or-so linear feet of lakebed, could they?
I like to think they did. As I wrote in Letter #00, I like to Hold space for zero. For what’s not there. Or for what doesn’t seem to be there, but is upon closer examination. Schrödinger’s wall is both there and not there.
In our forest here, the maple trees “budburst” and leaf out well before the oaks. It looks like the oaks aren’t doing anything.
But both species are hard at work. The maples are putting out leaves and only beginning to grow at the trunk. But while the oaks are quiet on the leaf front, their trunks are expanding at a rapid rate with a large growth ring. It’s just harder to see that—invisible unless you’re looking for it.
Sometimes I chide myself for being inconsistent. Since launching Roberts’ Green Letter in February, I haven’t hit my stride on keeping a publication schedule. I’ve varied the topic and style. I’ve been quiet for the last couple weeks.
But, look at the surface of the lake. See those bubbles? That’s me in scuba gear laying stone, building connections that you’ll see emerging above the water soon.
I would like to be more consistent, but I’m also trying to honor the true rhythms of my energy. Sometimes the stone masons are in plain sight. Sometimes the work they’re doing is harder to see or understand. And sometimes they need rest. Nature always has rhythms—ebbs and flows. (See on the blog—A steady income is unnatural.)
What if we all gave ourselves more peace about our “productivity” not being a constant?
What if we honored the time to do the necessary inner growth before the outer growth appears? It’s Schrödinger’s wall—if you look for it, you’ll find it.
Here you go,
Quill Nook Farm