Friday, February 5, 2010

What a difference a season makes

I haven't said much about why I named the blog Quarry Garden Stained Glass, have I?  The history is long and drawn-out, but boils down to this:  the 98 acres we live on was bought by my paternal grandfather, Jacob,  in the early 1900's.  Jacob was the last child born to a large family who had immigrated from Holland in the 1890's.  When the family arrived in America, they settled in Appleton, WI.  When Jake reached adulthood, he purchased the land we still live on which was fully wooded.   With the help of his eight kids, he set about clearing the trees (which consisted of lots of white pine) for farming.

There were no established roads in the area at the time, which made getting around a bit of a problem.  Since this farm had an abundance of sand and, underneath the sand, fine gravel, somewhere, someone got the idea to dig a sand pit/quarry.  They used the materials to build a better trail which became the road that runs by our house. The pit was quite deep after the road construction.  My father used to speak of his brothers and sisters and neighborhood kids swimming in the gravel pit, but this was all way before my time.

By the time I was born, my father had decided to work around the top of the gravel pit to close it in.  We had our farm rockpile up by the gravel pit on the fence line and I spent hours up there playing and pretending I was far from home in a rocky fortress; I have always loved rocks.  I remember ice-skating on the by-then shallow pond in the winter, but every year the pit became more of a 'dish' in the field and now it's not a problem to drive a tractor straight through the mere depression in the field.

Then, when I was a kid, my late brother (who was 13 years older than me) would take me to the local gravel pit hangout about a mile and a half from home and he'd spend the day fishing and swimming while I roamed around on the manmade sand hills, admiring the exotic views from the top.  I found the gravel pit to be the most amazing place to go and jumped at every chance to visit.  Eventually, the owner of the pit realized the problems he could face if someone drowned or was hurt, so it was locked up and the good days at the pit were over.  I've never forgotten them.

Carl, in the meantime, was growing up a mile away from me.  (We didn't meet until freshman year in high school, by the way-- after that point, we've been together ever since.)   Carl had an uncle who owned another gravel quarry about a mile north of us.  He, too, spent time in his uncle's quarry and really enjoyed it, too.  Carl's uncle sold the quarry to a sand and gravel company, so he lost his access to a quarry, too.

To cut down on a boring history lesson, we married in 1978 and built a new home down the road from my parents.  I worked full-time at an insurance company until the day before Joel was born in 1986 and have been home ever since.  After Joel and David grew up a bit, we turned our hand to gardening.  We used to drive by quarries (ok, we still do, it's an addiction) just to look into them and imagine what it would be like to own an abandoned quarry and landscape it.  That's when Carl got the idea to build a mock-quarry in our backyard starting in 2002.

Rocks, rocks and more rocks, it's such a long story about the how and the why and the where and the when; but after eight years, we're still having rocks hauled in.  We've had many visitors stop in to visit who have said they wish they were lucky enough to have an old, abandoned quarry in their I guess we've been sorta successful in making look it 'natural'. 

So, anyway, here's some pictures showing the difference in a season!


LC said...

It's not "boring history"- it's what makes projects like yours really mean something!! LC

Cathy said...

I agree--your history is not boring at all! The things I didn't know about you...Your quarry is beautiful, btw.

Karen said...

Thank you, glad I didn't put anyone to sleep!