photo by Gwyneth Jones
SKILL VS ARTISTRY
I have long been an admirer of people who can do things really, really well. The artist who can toss off a sketch on the back of a napkin that you'd actually like to frame. Pianists who can play anything by ear. It's the kind of talent that leaves the rest of us wondering -- how do they do that?
I find people who can do miraculous things with their hands especially impressive. The sound of John Williams' fingers audibly sliding on his guitar strings is achingly affecting. The music is beautiful, but the sound of his fingers reminds me that it is a mere human making all that sound.
So now the masons have entered my life. They hail from far-away places such as Scotland (where they know a bit about stone), Ireland, and Portugal,and they have been doing this work for years. Today they arrived in sub-freezing weather at dawn's first light to tackle the piles of stones that had been deposited earlier, awaiting their touch. Soon I heard the ping of the chisels, bringing them to life.
Alas, it is my bad fortune that this project occurs in the shortest days of the year. I can greet these craftsmen, but then I must scurry off to work. By the time I get home they are long gone and it is dark. But Gwyneth was able to snap photographic evidence of today's progress-- the stones nicely line the driveway's edges.
I do not know yet if they will prove to be artists or just skilled craftsmen. I await the little grace note --- some extra flourish or lagniappe, that will show me they are not working for me, they are working for themselves.