The stonewall begins to take shape as I strip away the brambles.
"I went in knowing I was being foolhardy. I went in pigheaded. I went in for reasons too complex to excavate. Mostly, I went in because I wanted to." D.Evans
On our property, there is a stone wall that weaves its way through forest and hillside. It dates back about 150 years or more. I think about the hands that first worked to clear our land without benefit of tractor or plow. Chestnut Mountain is the result of geological events that date back hundreds of thousands of years. lAccording to what I read:
Lava flows are dramatic and important Mesozoic events in the Connecticut Valley and profoundly influence the landscape today. The dark basalt lavas, called "traprock", flowed out over the Mesozoic lowlands, commonly reaching over 100 feet in thickness. Today these flows, tilted by movements along the ancient Eastern Border Fault and then exposed by erosion, form spectacular ridges that stretch tens of miles, creating interesting, dramatic vista points and important upland ecosystems in the middle of the wide valley (Fig. 5). Examples include the Pocumtuck Range (Greenfield - Deerfield, MA) and the Holyoke Range that trends east-west about 10 miles from Amherst to Easthampton, and then southerly for about 60 miles (known as the Metacomet Ridge) to the outskirts of New Haven.... Information from:
Another good resource: http://users.crocker.com/~lhtg/geo.html
From what I can tell, on Chestnut “Mountain,” stones must have been scattered like marbles. In order to make the land manageable, homesteaders had to drag, roll or carry these impediments to perimeter boundaries. After all these years, piles of rocks still stand as testament to those determined souls. The weight of the forces of nature and man come to bear when I look out at the vista from my office; two walls practically open wide to allow this view. Inevitably, I find peace and inspiration when I look out upon the expanse of lawn and mountain, stone and towering pines. Wildlife - deer, fox, squirrels, turkeys (we’ve talked about them enough), possums, chipmunks, porcupines, pheasants, skunks, bears, and one bobcat are animals I have observed from my vantage point.
My husband knows how much I love the view. When we first moved here, six years ago, he cut a swathe through grasses and overgrown raspberry so I could see the stonewall that wends through our property. He had the landscape designer patch parts of the wall with large stones he had unearthed and that had to be relocated. In every season, I have loved looking up from my computer and seeing what traffic might be up at the stonewall -- the water cooler of wildlife. However, nature abhors a vacuum. It races to fill in empty space. In this case, nature went to work filling in the stonewall that had been laid bare. Just this week, I could barely see the large boulders up on the ridge, let alone the stonewall.
Today I was overcome with the desire to bring back the view of the stonewall I love. I covered my legs, donned my gloves and grasped my pruners. I hacked and sawed and chopped to carve out the wall. Nothing about my hips or back encouraged me. Truth be known, they complained loudly. I treated those complaints with blatant (foolhardy) disregard. It was a reckless hour well-spent. Even now, you might find me flat on my back, under treatment with pain medicine. However, a smile of contentment is on my lips; a smile that is likely to return often as the winter months advance and the snow makes new patterns out of familiar shapes.
For me, tackling the raspberry brambles was a battle of epic proportion. However, there were intrinsic rewards...like the flowers I uncovered, the animal hole I unearthed and the warm, plump, red raspberries I popped into my mouth without caution or hesitation. I may be uncomfortable for days, but the pure joy of resurrecting the stonewall will sustain me through the long winter.