JSW: Who is “us?” I am a little confused. Well, that’s all right. My name is Jeremy Seawall, and I am a seawall here on Lake Martin.
JC: And what does that mean to you? What does it mean to … to be a seawall?
JSW: First of all, there is a lot of confusion over my name. Obviously, there is no salt water here at Lake Martin, no sea at all. So some humans ask why my last name is Seawall. Well, I always like to point out that the folks on the coast call their walls, bulkheads. That makes no sense to me, as well. It seems like they should be called seawalls, too, but not if that means I have to change my name to Bulkhead. It sounds unflattering, and besides, it would render all my Lands’ End monogramed luggage completely useless. I just got a cute tote for my birthday.
JC: Jeremy, do you enjoy being a seawall? Do you find it exclusionary? Restraining?
JSW: I absolutely love it! Being a seawall is the best! I don’t feel restrained at all. I am here at a lot with a lake home on it. Some really lovely folks own it. Since it is on the water, this dirt is worth some money. The value of the land represents a sizable part of my owners’ investment. If something happens to the home, they can always rebuild. But if the land washes into the lake … Well, the way I look at it, I am keeping the most valuable part of their property safe. It only makes sense that lot owners should have someone like me to help them out.
JC: How long does the typical seawall last?
JSW: You mean like my lifespan? I don’t really like to think about that much, but I guess it is a fair question. Construction folks tell me that a concrete wall is the sturdiest choice for materials. I was glad to hear that since, obviously, I am concrete. My buddies that are wood last a long time, too. Rip rap – you know, the walls that are made of volleyball sized granite rocks that are piled up – does pretty well, but they need readjustment sometimes.
Really, it depends on things like quality of construction, and if the wall is exposed to lots of heavy waves. The more waves that pound against seawalls day by day can expose a wall’s faults very quickly.
I have seen poorly built wooden walls go down in a matter of months because they were in high boat traffic areas. A concrete wall like me – with my deep footings, tie back, and rip rap at my base – well, they tell me that I can last many decades with routine maintenance; however, I will admit that, as they say, water always wins. Given enough time and enough pressure, water is a universal solvent.
JC: That’s pretty deep.
JSW: Thanks, man. Trust me, I think about that concept a lot.
JC: Speaking of maintenance, how do you prefer that your humans keep you running smoothly?
JSW: Just the basic stuff, I guess. Like right now during the winter, the lake level is drawn down 7 feet. I love this time of year. I get to breathe a little, ya’ know? Let the wind blow across me; air out a bit. My humans are pretty good about checking for cracks in me and piling back the rocks at my base. That is a key move to prevent erosion from happening under my footings, and I really appreciate that.
JC: Any Christmas wishes, Jeremy?
JSW: Not many. Maybe they could swag some garland down me? Like with some of those colorful lights? I mean, with the water down, I am finally exposed now, and I have plenty of area for decoration. I hate to see it go to waste. If everyone did it, maybe there could be boat parades and tours where folks ride around and check out the seawalls with the most Christmas spirit. But if that is too much of a hassle, I am cool with it. Like I said, I love my job, and if you love what you do, you never have a day of work. That is how I feel.