Six days. What started as a field full of rum-destined plants has undergone a fine and hasty transition. Project the school foundation’s shape from a set of strings down to the soil with a long scratch of the pick, and dig down deep and wide. Load after load of rubble (composed of cinder blocks, a spoon, stones, a broom, …) brought in by our trusty little bob cat. The rubble laboriously spread with rakes, shovels, and good old hands to level out the school site. A skim of gravel finely graded to 3″ below the concrete slab-to-be, topped by a single sheet of plastic tarp to keep the moisture down in the ground. And a full round of beautifully constructed forms: perfectly plumb plywood staked back to heartily driven metal stakes. The grid of rebar, fine enough that those crusty union ironworkers would be proud. Lastly, anchors set out where the walls will stand, anchors that will hold the walls and roof fast when the next hurricane surely comes along. Tomorrow a few finishing touches, and on Friday the shit show begins.
The shit show to which I lovingly refer is concrete. Anyone who has ever partaken in the placement of concrete knows the intrinsic intensity. Concrete is never adequately thick or thin, the burn on your skin a constant irritant that pushes you to complete the job as soon as possible. At our school site we will be hauling water from a well a few hundred meters away, loading the cement, gravel and sand scoop at a time into the mixing machine. It’s concrete, and I love (almost) every minute of it.
Here’s a video from the end of the day.