The Ghost in the Wall


Nestled throughout most of New England are the remains of a great fort.  Along the side of most roads, behind sheds, and breaking up the suburban monotony, stone walls exert their quiet constraints all around us.  It is not often that I notice these relics and even more rare that I recognize their official boundaries.  Only when charged with setting new posts or taking a minute to watch a chipmunk scurry along the rocks do they ever really cross my mind.  Today was different.  With the inevitable drought coming this summer I decided to dam up one side of my main pond to allow it to accumulate more water this Spring.  So in true grit form I decided to start building the damn by hand one day at at time.  As luck would have it, there is a stone wall about 100 feet from the pond.  I grabbed the cart and began dismantling the wall and setting the rocks into their new home at the edge of the pond.  The hard work swelled to a rhythm and before I knew it, the new dam was beginning to take shape.  Naturally, as I was working, I began to ponder my forbearers who had originally built the walls.  The agrarian men and women who harvested the glacial pebbles and gave structure to chaos.  These people were well versed in the cycles of life and death but would they ever have imagined their work would be dismantled by the same sweat equity that built them?
I have no doubt that there is real value in hard work and a sore back as it is one of the aspects that called me to farm work.  Today, while destroying and rebuilding in order to alter the land, I found another aspect that I realized has called me to this lifestyle.  It is in the legacy of those before me, a farmers ghost present in all that is done on this land. The worn hands and sharp minds that are both sculpted and required by the art of farming.   At this time, in this project, our hard work was paralleled and I wondered if those before me would recognize me and a farmer, as kin, as tenacious and hard as the walls they built.  Sitting here in the evening, tired and rubbing my sore back, I take solace in knowing that our work in stone and sweat will last forever in the physical and collective memory of the land.


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