Friday, January 19, 2007

Stone Fences

I can't see a stone fence without thinking of Robert Frost's poem "Good Fences Make Good Neighbors." Perhaps it is because I live in an area with so many stone fences that this poem is often in my mind. Or perhaps the vice versa is true.

This stone fence is one of many I see when I come out of the woods and off the mountain and head towards the city for work. Some are in good repair, as this one is. Some are vine-covered, forgotten and nearly invisible.

It is not uncommon to walk anywhere in forest in this area and suddenly come upon one out in the woods. Perhaps a farm was once nearby, though that must have been long ago, if so, as the woods around these mystery stone fences are nearly always mature and well-established, not new growth.

A stone fence serves as the boundary line through the woods on my father's farm. That one is a bit unusual. Stone fences most often mark pastures or kept farm animals in or out of a place. But my father's woods has never been a pasture, as far as we know. The trees in his forest are large and mature, as they are on the other side of that stone fence. So that stone fence was apparently always just a boundary line through the woods (but would have been a lot of work to build just for that).

Here on the mountain, a trace of snow fell overnight, not enough to call a dusting, only enough to gather on my wiper blades and sit in a few nooks and crannies. I've tried to build my own stone fence along the driveway at the cabin, to little success. It takes a lot of rocks (which I have, though most are not easily pried from the ground) and a more effort than I expected. Once, I had a fair amount done only to have a snowplow knock down most of it when they tried to plow my driveway. But like Frost's poem, I always find myself starting again. Stone fences make good neighbors.


pablo said...

There are places around my home in Kansas City where old stone fencewalls exist. They stretch into the trees that have grown up around them, and I often wonder just what the wall was intended to enclose or keep out.

Carolyn H said...


Stone fences are still fairly commonly seen here, though virtually no one uses them as a true fence anymore. They're remnants of a bygone day.

Carolyn H.