He first set up a table (board on several sawhorses & voila = table), next to the pit; and then he slowly moved the bricks from the pit to the table, keeping everything in order. These are insulated bricks, so they are light, soft and crumbly. That word soft is relative, as in soft for a brick.
Many of these bricks are in pieces, so it was a slow and painstaking process. Imagine deconstructing a crumbling jigsaw puzzle.
So, the easy part was taking the pit box apart. The hardest part was leveling the soil beneath each brick.
This above ground pit was built 8 years ago.
Eight years of people kicking dirt up and eight years of rain and snow and eight years of shifting bricks and sawdust and shrinkage and other processes I am not ever aware of.
So each bricks were picked up, the hard ground was scraped repeatedly until the level said it was level, then the brick went down and the level wasn’t.
Sometimes John used a clay mixture to raise the soil level or to fill in between bricks, like a mortar.
And then more adjusting went on.
When the last brick passed the level test, the rest went quickly.
Here he is beginning the second layer. Everything went quickly after this.
John was done close to dark, or around 9pm.
It was quite an evening to watch him solve all sorts of problems, and as he rebuilt this he changed bricks around, looking to improve the structure.
As a PS to this, the following week, for the first time, someone leaned in on one side and collapsed it. First time ever in 8 years. We have always been careful to remind people to not lean, but this dear friend was reaching for one of her sculptures and one side caved in. No one was hurt, nor were any pots damaged, almost a miracle.