Just as old LPs or records are now called vinyls, so are chunks of a neighbor’s patio called urbanite. I like the term because it makes the mental transition from a waste product – cement chunks – to building material. Put an ‘ite’ at the end, and you can use it. The name urbanite also makes me envision pieces of nature-less cities being used for more natural landscapes. There are spaces around chunks of cement for plants to grow.
The idea of working with cement chunks doesn’t sound aesthetically pleasing, but done well it always has visitors to Finch Frolic Garden enthusiastic. A pathway and two retaining walls were made of urbanite, and they are all wonderful.
A friend and former co-worker called me a few weeks ago to offer urbanite from a piece of her patio that had to be repoured. It took awhile but I found some help to go pick it up. With a small pickup truck we managed two loads; the pieces were stacked on the patio, but the only way to access them was to drive the pickup below the patio wall. Unfortunately, the ground was at an unnerving angle, and quite sandy so there was little traction. I handed pieces of urbanite over the wall and down to Jacob, who loaded them into the tilted truck. It was quite warm that day so we were well cooked. There was a lot left.
Then Jacob arranged for me to borrow an old 2-ton pickup with 4-wheel drive. My daughter and I headed over two days ago during a cloudy morning intending to get the truck very close to the wall. No way. The truck tilted dangerously and began to slide, so I had to park it out on the driveway. Of course the sun came out. We spent three hours taking turns tossing huge chunks of cement over the patio wall, shot-putting the pieces so that they wouldn’t hurt the plants at the base of the wall, and then picking them up (finding some of them that had rolled downhill) and carrying them across the shifty dirt to hoist the pieces up and into the bed of the large truck. We swept rubble into nursery containers and dumped them into the truck as well.
Well cooked and completely exhausted, we made it home with the whole load, the truck tires just a little squished. Now we have urbanite to replace some of the stairs made from palms that are beginning to soften or which have been eaten by bunnies.
Unfortunately, we still have to unload the truck.