Insipid light of the late afternoon thunderstorm grey greets me as I turn into the driveway of my potential future home. A typical Malaysian red-brown smear of heavy raindrop soil wash smothers the drive entry. All washed from the almost nude lightly sloping front yard. Kuala Lumpur rain only needs 1 degree of fall to do its messy drain clogging and soil nutrition stripping best damage. Gravelly red clay that even the weeds seem allergic to.
Square mouth shovel, stiff broom and the watering hose come into play and the brown-red stain smear is no more. This surplus wash placed back to where it started. “Not as much wash out as last time”, is muttered to self. Bare bones of a rock wall base stopped much washing away, a temporary mini lake behind. Hand tools dragged out, a wheelbarrow mortar mix prepared and the decidedly rusty landscaper/ rock wall specialist plays and lays more Granite rock.
Aim was to use recycled materials where possible. Not really knowing KL that well, this proved to be an issue. As last resort I found some ‘B’ grade solid red bricks, had a palette delivered and started the install early on a Sunday. They were soft and crumbly, not really what was desired for something long term. “Oh well, I can cover the front of the wall with plants and hide the defects”. So saying, started brick laying but the human melting Sun stopped work only after about 10 bricks were laid.
Next day and inside the site office my long term retired landscaper memory is abruptly awakened by the sound of rock sliding and crashing to the ground. Bolting outside, a small mountain of quarry granite, some with concrete stuck on greets me. A quick inquiry with the contractor and found it was demolished work and yes, I could scavenge what I desired. Awesome! Crappy brick no more, a wall of real substance at last. Rock on!
Rock is solid, natures creation. Without rock we would not have soil, we would not have plants, agriculture or humans living on our big round rock lump in space. Granite formed through a volcanic belch is one of the harder, denser and by virtue heavier rock varieties. Kuala Lumpur variety is an uncompromising Grey in colour. Rock is not to be trifled with. Its disposition of the Earth, connection to the core, symbolises the tenuous connection humans have. If not for gravity we float to space. Rock of the planet defies gravity.
Quarry rock is raw blasted from the quarry wall with many faces, not all even or indeed flat and square. Benchtop it is not. In building this rock wall you cannot bend the rock to your will, you must work with what is presented, find the side that fits best, being mindful of the next rock that needs to be sourced to fit neatly beside or above. Patience must be applied. Careless, cannot be. Rock just is what it is.
Piece by piece the wall progresses. A three dimensional jigsaw that moves into the fourth dimension as time dilates to realise I have been looking and puzzling over the same rock for 20 minutes which passed like 20 seconds. “It must fit”! The mind screams! “Cannot, come on man this is taking forever”. Rock finally is cast aside and back to the rockpile, eyes weary from imagining perfect fitting. On auto, the hand plucks another candidate that slots into the same spot I had wasted 20 eternal minutes on not two minutes ago. Bang, bang, bang and within 5 minutes other rocks go in in as if they had waited all their life to find each other, to snuggle in each joining embrace. Progress and work effort satisfied. Clean up, pack up for the day.
Fresh the following day, walk up to the wall, partially peruse, go to rock pile, the 20 minute insanity rock from day before invades the vision demanding to be picked and placed perfectly within the first five minutes. That is how rock life happens. Rock fitting can wonderfully flow until conned by the good looking rock that demands fitting, but is just slightly too big for a tight fit or the angle of all the faces just don’t work out even if they look like they should. Mind is screaming put it down and find another one but the eyes refuse to cooperate. The mental battle goes on.
Eventually it becomes a low wall to support a lawn terrace. Eventually takes some time – almost 2 months of the odd 2 hours here and there fitting this in between full time work, surfing, cricket and the wife. I tried early weekend mornings but was either being nicely sun fried by 9am or Friday nights ended up being much larger than planned.
Wall finished and backfill soil installed. Clean soil (as in free of weeds) was ordered. What was received was a nightmare opposite. Nut Grass infested soil it was and had no real idea how much until it popped up through the fresh turf a few weeks later – almost a forest of it!
I tried to track down the supplier to express my severe disappointment, but did not return the whattsap messages or the phone calls. A year later on a random visit to a cluster of my favourite plant nurseries, soil supplier was walking out as I was heading in. He had no choice but to talk to me and more than likely wished he was on Mars!
The vision of a beautifully level and smooth lawn turf is a wonderful thing to behold. The pleasure of naked feet in contact with it makes it all worthwhile. Vision and pleasure were severely impaired by the weed made in Hell. So, I poisoned and gave up on the beautiful green lawn. There it sat for a year growing new weeds. It didn’t matter as we had not moved house. Just wait till the move and re-do myself. I did.
Now? Finished product! Planting, fresh lawn and nut grass controlled. Sitting and observing the smooth green carpet lawn to the infinity edge rock wall and finally pleasure of bare feet in touch with the healing cooling of natures green gift. A wonderful thing indeed!
Surrounding plants with lush new growth and flowers add to the place, time and moment of visual ecstasy. Red soil smears, 20 minute do nothing rocks, human melting sun, have faded to a written memory on a mere writers blog.
Backyard beckons. Another naked landscapers palette concealed under many years of nothing but weeds and ignorance. More frustration, but mainly fun to come. What? Done and dusted? Almost. Still another half of yard, plants, paving and lawn to come. Rock wall pumped in within two weeks (with a little help from step- daughters BF – nice work Apprentice Izat!) and garden bed at rear waiting in anticipation of the Veges to come.
The Rocks found their way from a demolition stockpile to re-connecting with mother Earth in a most satisfying way. Time eternal in the forming, time eternal spent waiting. Time to sit back, relax on the soothing cooling rock of ages and enjoy the fruits of labour.