My role as director of the second year studio at IIT means that, along with teaching wood and masonry, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to teach these materials to architecture students. Which means I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about these materials in very basic terms. Wood, in all its variations, masonry, and especially stone. And for reasons perhaps related to my many years buried in the stone cities and buildings of Europe, but also to something more significant, immediate, and powerful, I am haunted by stones. I dream of the taste and smell of certain stones. Though I'm a southerner, I never ate dirt, but I do know well its many and varied tastes. Even now I can summon the taste of rocks from the creek on our land in the Black Mountains. I'm likewise haunted by the image of Assisi's pink stone shifting colors under a hard rain. And the color of San Biagio late on a May afternoon is one seared into my brain. I climbed for years and can recall in hyper-detail the feel of rock on certain climbs. The quality of friction provided by an outcropping on a particular pitch.
So finding this photograph recently was a kind of minor miracle. One because of the people in it. But also because of what it told me about things I didn't realize I had in me. My grandfather, my father, and my uncle at their rented house near Asheville.