An archaeologist is visiting a small town in Nevada. He's just ambling around, enjoying the play of the autumn light on the terracotta and adobe-colored buildings. He rounds a corner and is surprised to see the most, bar none, stunningly beautiful alley he's ever come across…
It may sound like he’s a bit nerdy, but we all have our things we love and he’s a lover of old streets.
The ground of the alley is a light orange in hue, with a soft almost nutty sheen and texture.
His feet feel refreshed!
The street has gorgeous slopes and embankments, like an alleyway out of Florence in the 1500s, but made out of clay stones.
He sees two gentlemen working on fixing a small crack in the street, the only blemish for blocks.
One of them is pounding down the clay with a wide-head sledgehammer, thwap thwap!
The other is on his knees with a compass and a pick and a broom, adjusting the grade of the street material.
He interrupts them to say, “Excuse me gentlemen! I hate to be a bother, but I just want to applaud your hard work on this alleyway. It’s rare a city takes such good care with its streets and this one is one of the best.”
The man with the sledge stops and says, “Well, we appreciate that sir. You know your streets, it seems! Would it surprise you to know that the composition of this street is not adobe? It’s mulched with our native nut trees, the cashew nut. That’s what gives it its softness. When it rains, the petrichor has a slight sweetness due to the cashew, and the town smells fantastic. I’m just hammering it down before it gets too cold.”
“Well, I’ll be!” cried the archaeologist. “And what’s that fellow up to?” pointing to the man on his knees.
“Oh him! He’s in charge of checking the grade of the clay. If it’s too rough, he picks and sweeps it. Backbreaking work. We hire four of them, one for each season. And since autumn just arrived, he’s got a few months yet. So you see…”
And here the man paused…
“So you see…my hammered alley is really ‘cashews clay’. And he is the gradist.”
“The gradist…of fall time.”