Ricka McNaughton Writing, Photography

Rock, Gravity and Friction


One day I plan to have a bumper sticker made for my car that says: I BRAKE FOR STONE WALLS. Let the person behind me think about it. When not on a tight schedule, if I happen to spot something artfully built of fieldstone, I do like to pull over and have a look.  A wall. An unusual  landscaping feature. Or just a cool detail of a building. One Vermont village boasts a rock wall embedded with old farm implements and parts.  Was it just a metal-and-rust-lovers design whim?  Or was it an agricultural allegory?  (Would that be called an agrigory?)  If so, here might be the metaphoric basis:  


Eons ago, glaciers scoured away the New England soil and dotted the land willy nilly with boulders and busted rocks. Fast forward to colonial America.  Settlers who came north in search of cheaper land had no love affair with stone.  To prepare a field for farming required not only the laborious removal of trees  but a whole lot of stone "picking," and then lots more picking every year after.  Bent plows and bent backs came with the territory, and still do.  


If you do any gardening in Vermont, you come to suspect that the rocks in the soil engage in some kind of organic, subterranean cell-division in winter. Each spring a new crop of robust stone bodies thrust themselves to the surface to thwart the efforts of anyone who dares carve up their turf. Many of the stones I've handled share this personality trait: They are extremely contrary about the company they keep in a man-made wall.  Nuzzling up in neat formations with other rocks is not what they were born to do.   


Every stone has a proud creation myth.  Each is  (Oops - not done posting this story...)