Not one to sit around doing nothing, Granby resident and Hartford school teacher Sean Wynne was not content with building just a fire pit in his back yard—he decided to design and execute a compass rose around it. The idea came to him when he and his wife Cathy were enjoying a fire one evening and noticed a great view of the North Star.
Wynne dug out the grass around the pit, forming a circle with a 21-foot diameter, and filled the area with processed gravel in which to set the stone for both stability and drainage. He then marked out the eight directional points that would become the rays, which he formed from the several pallets of wall stone he had ordered.
At first, he intended to create some Stonehenge-type furniture between the rays, but family and friends talked him out of that idea. Playing around with the stones one day, he noticed that two of the large rocks he had chosen for the aborted furniture plan were mirror images of each other, and looked to him like a pair of wings. A nearby rock made a perfect tail and Wynne easily saw a bird flying north east.
After that, designs for the seven other images came quickly, based on iconic characters from his and Cathy’s life. Having just celebrated their third anniversary, the heart with the arrow was a no-brainer. The shining crescent moon blowing a kiss “pretty much covers the romantic moonlight thang,” says Wynne. The sea turtle relates to the couple’s love of the ocean and surfing, and the musical note represents their skill in playing an assortment of instruments. The ambling bear represents the Granby Bear mascot of son Charlie’s class of 2020, and is also intended to keep the peace with the local bear that wanders through their yard looking for a late afternoon snack. The sunflower relates to the fact that Cathy plants them in the yard. Finally, the fish is a token of the town and state’s water projects to clean up the Farmington and Connecticut Rivers.
To help the images stand out, Wynne used polished black pebbles to differentiate them from the background and framed the entire piece with granite cobblestones. Begun in mid-April, the five-month project was completed just a few days before Wynne returned to his regular job of teaching middle schoolers. Too bad he isn’t the student being asked what he did for the summer—what a great story he would have to tell!
Notice the bear, turtle, bird and fish images in the designs.
Photos by Shirley Murtha.