Our Everyday Path


Three years ago when we moved into our house, the stones of our patio were newly laid and all level. Since then we have been walking across that surface, usually along the diagonal between the patio entrance + shed door and the front door of the house, sometimes around the corner to the compost container. Every step we’ve taken has caused a stone to settle infinitesimally into the substratum. Every step the kids have taken has on average made a slightly greater impact as they’ve grown. And when it rains, you can see that it all adds up. If I had a more volatile psychological constitution, this sight would probably be enough to trigger a full-blown mid-life crisis.


  1. #1 Richard D
    December 8, 2011

    I absolutely love observations like this. For a while I was thinking on working on an art project that would involve recording the traces of our everyday actions and how they created patterns in an archaeological record of the recent past.

    After all, archaeology is about recognizing how human agency has shaped things in the world. My favourite things are steps that have been worn down in the centre of many years of people using them.

  2. #2 george.w
    December 8, 2011

    In one of the lovelier buildings on campus, the wide marble steps reflect 80 years of people maneuvering around the turns as they go up and down between floors. Each step is like an inverted distribution curve. When you stand back you can actually see the typical path of generations. You’ve given me an idea for a post that will involve some photography and some measurements.

  3. #3 Birger Johansson
    December 8, 2011

    When I have designed the nanotech for shifting around the ground underneath the tower of Pisa I will let you have the nanotech template. Don’t do any programming errors or your town will get a Rift Valley.
    — — — — — —
    Same effect in reverse: -Are you in the habit of throwing away stuff on the ground? Keep it up across the generations and your descendants will live on top of a hill, like they do in the Middle East.

  4. #4 Mike Olson
    December 10, 2011

    AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!! Have you built upon an old graveyard? An ancient cairn? What is that large ghostly face hovering around and behind the trees?!?!?!?!? I can see a chin! Lips! A nose?!?!?! You have offended the gods! The spirits walk amongst us! the whole lower face is seen?!?!!? The eyes! The eyes! Where are it’s eyes!

  5. #5 Martin R
    December 11, 2011

    *high-fives Mike*

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