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Graveling Day

Living as we do in the country, we have a long driveway, which is made of dirt, on top of which is a layer of gravel. The gravel has to be relaid every couple of years, and today was that day: A nice man came by in a really huge dump truck, and laid several tons of crushed rock of various grades into the driveway.

As a result, the driveway is now super-smooth if a little treacherous to walk on — the gravel will compact a bit for the next couple of weeks, and then will be easier to get down without worrying about turning an ankle if one is not careful.

But regardless, our driveway is now squared away and looking pretty nice. One of the weird things about being an adult is being excited by a new load of gravel, I suppose, but here we are. One adult, happy about crushed rock.

— JS

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

33 replies on “Graveling Day”

Do you have them grade down ruts and dips as well? Back when I lived in a house with a long gravel lane, we had to do that periodically, and in between times aim our wheels so as not to scrape the chassis.

But new gravel day is always fun — if slightly treacherous to the ankles!

I remember that when my grandparents did this, the gravel would end up in the grass from mowing and be treacherous underfoot until it all sunk down. But it makes such a wonderful sound under tires.

I remember when I was very young that watching that gravel being delivered would have been the high point of my day. Of course I’m old, so there was no internet or video games, and there were only a few TV channels available and there was only one TV in the house…

When we moved to the Charlotte suburbs a few years ago, we were surprised to discover that the local standard for driveways is concrete, even for the long ones. Our previous driveways, in Northern Virginia and the Boston suburbs, had been blacktop and kind of a pain; they didn’t survive winters for very many years. Given the apparent length of your driveway, concrete might have been expensive, but you wouldn’t have to redo it every few years. The cost would have been absorbed by your mortgage.

Strangely enough, I once spent more than a week of jury duty on a case that was entirely about rock (no one called it gravel). It was a civil case between a developer and a gravel pit operator and somewhere buried in my brain is all the information you would ever need to know about rock. It was actually pretty interesting. And the judge was the same judge who had married my wife and I a few years previously.

Brings back memories of my Grandparents place in Western NC where the gravel was all nicely rounded river rocks. Lots of cool retaining walls out there with bigger river rocks, too.

Must have been a gravel quarry in the Pigeon river or something.

I’m in my early thirties and had a good day today. Which, now that I think about it for a second, apparently means ‘picked up some new storage bins, got lunch at the vegan deli, went for a run, and booked a dentist appointment’.

My inner child is deeply unimpressed.

I grew up in a dirt road so I understand. Congratulations on fresh gravel.

With regards to being excited as an adult about things you’d never have expected when you were younger, one of my favorite memes says something to the effect of as an adult you have a favorite burner on the stove. It always makes me laugh – mine is the front right.

As a small boy, I was always excited to see the grader go by, down the public pike. Our own driveway though, was bottomless. All the stones from our big garden went there, to no avail.

I dimly remember dumping wheelbarrows of gravel onto dirt trails, to no avail.

The public sidewalk was dirt, bounded by two-by-fours. In the frost the stones would all sink (not be heaved up) and there would be an inch of ice reaching down from the dirt, that you could see around the holes of the sunk stones.

Maybe some patches of prairie for the animals to play in? Tall grass and wildflowers can be cool too, as well as helping all the pollinators. Most of the “tallgrass prairie” plants are found in meadows all over the northeast. And instead of mowing, you burn the patch every year or two, which is exciting.

Pedantic question: Most of the folks here, including @scalzi, appear to be using the word “gravel” interchangeably with “crushed rock”. My family’s rural driveway* has been gravel as well, which I define as “naturally rounded small rocks”. Any thoughts on the difference in vocabulary?

* The road had been dirt until getting paved in the late 1990’s.

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