Archive for January, 2008

Stone pillow

31 January 2008


“Jacob left Beer-sheba and headed toward Charan. He came to a familiar place and spent the night there because the sun had already set. Taking some stones, he placed them at his head and lay down to sleep there. He had a vision in a dream. A ladder was standing on the ground, and its top reached up toward heaven. God’s angels were going up and down on it. Suddenly he saw God standing over him. [God] said, ‘I am God, Lord of Abraham your father, and Lord of Isaac. I will give to you and your descendants the land upon which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth.’ ”

Not ten feet away is the tall, wooded scarp marking the Hayward fault just off Tunnel Road. The homeless person whose camp this is will witness the Big One close up, as will the splendid old Berkeley mansion just up the way.


28 January 2008

mtnvwpost.jpgThere is an old tradition in Berkeley and the northern Oakland foothills of building with stone and using local stone. A fantastic book, Berkeley Rocks (Ten Speed Press), is full of lush photos and lore connected with the hillside stones. This example is in Mountain View Cemetery.

Nowadays lots of people put boulders in their yards, but little of it is locally sourced. Of course, there are no local quarries any more either. The biggest ones I know of were on the south side of Hiller Highlands, at Broadway and Pleasant Valley Avenue, and of course the huge Leona quarry near Mills College. At the same time, stonemasonry has declined too. When I finished my geology degree, I contemplated becoming a stonemason. I thought that was romantic—actually I still think so. Watching the “wallers” at work in the Andy Goldsworthy documentary “Rivers and Tides” appealed to me for personal as well as artistic reasons.


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