Whenever I see a well maintained stone wall I am reminded of the first time I read the Robert Frost poem “Mending Wall”.* I don’t remember how old I was, but I think I would have been in about the ninth grade. I wonder if it’s still taught in school these days. The irony was not lost on me even then that we were reading this poem about New England stone walls while living in south Texas where stone walls were a rarity; barbed wire fence was a lot more likely. Now, fifty years later I find myself passing stone walls whenever I go for a drive. They are dry stacked; mortar being hard to mix in the middle of a field, and besides the dry stack lets the wall flex with the heave of frost. The problem is that it requires periodic maintenance; walking the line of the wall and putting the fallen stones back in place.
This wall in Washington now only serves to mark the boundary between the roadway and a lovely copse of pine trees, but any drive through the countryside reveals old walls that snake off into the woods marking old fields, long overgrown, where farmers once worked to clear the stones that turned up every spring with the thaw. The penalty for not clearing the stones could have been a broken plow or a lame draft animal.
Pentax K5IIs with 70mm lens. processed in Photoshop CS4 and convert to black and white in Nik Silver Efex Pro2.