When we got home yesterday there was a pallet sitting on the driveway (Long-time readers should recognize this phenomenon by now). This time, however, unlike the last few times, it was only one pallet – and it contained a fairly small (by comparison) pile of rocks.
So when we got up this morning we went outside and dragged all the rocks to the backyard and laid them all out on the ground side by side to get a sense of sizes and shapes, and then we went off to Davis for the traditional Saturday breakfast of cornmeal waffles with pecan butter, followed by a quick trip to the farmer's market to stock up on more fresh-picked corn, grapes, and a handful of white peaches. And after that we swung by the lawn and garden store to load Richard's car down with about half a yard of potting soil (luckily it was in bags, as this would have been a tad messy in the back seat) and then finally returned home to start the rocky fun.
Naturally, since Murphy's Law is always in effect, it was extremely hot today (high 90's). But we were determined (or rather, I was determined – I think Richard would have been just as happy to leave the rocks right where we'd dumped them), so we dumped potting soil all over the path area around the raised flower bed we'd built earlier this summer, and then started laying rocks.
It isn't an exact science, this sort of path building. You grab the largest stones first and sort of drop them in the dirt and then you get down on your knees and dig in the dirt until the rock settles enough that it doesn't rock when you step on it, and then you get back up and go pick up another rock and you do it over and over and over and over until either all the rocks are laid, or the path is as full of rocks as it can be.
And then when all the rocks are nestled gently in the potting soil (which smells suspiciously like cow manure, by the way, and has an annoying tendency to filter inside the gardening gloves no matter what you might do to stop it), you spray down the whole path until the aforementioned potting soil becomes mud. This is to allow the (extremely heavy) rocks to settle enough so that they won't have a tendency to wobble when people walk on them later.
For now, we're just letting the rocks sit, in order for them to all settle as much as they're going to. The next stage is to get a few flats of creepers and start filling in the open spaces and the next stage after that will be to call it a year and not do any more heavy lifting or deep knee bending or digging until next summer.
Just to keep things in perspective, that flower bed you see there is about 2 1/2 feet high, and it is 12 feet across.