Concerning mana and stone walls.
Nothing ages like a stone; I am jealous of some of the handsomer ones. That chiseled look. Someone sometime decided to pile up a bunch of these things in long rows all over our land, all over New England in fact, but still you can’t drive a post more than a foot without crashing into one the size of a bathtub. It’s a real you-know-what to get those big ones out, sweating, pulling, pushing – meanwhile the stone takes on the mantle of an Old God deep in sleep – unconcerned with our plight to remove it, happy to be heavy and stubborn.
Common belief is that the stone walls of New England were built by the first settlers of the area, but that’s total malarkey. Colonists didn’t have time to dig rocks out of the earth and construct miles and miles of walls: they needed to set up farms, quickly. Colonial-era books depict not stone walls but walls from the English homeland – Wattle and Daub – long branches woven between driven posts. People needed places to live so the trees had to come down, which left plenty of extra bits for the fences.
By the time the Revolution was on all of that deforestation had summoned up the rocks of New England by way of frost heaves – basically without the tree roots holding the rocks down and with all of the newly exposed land freezing way deeper than before, winter pulled forth the stones.
Now, these stones are from way way down there. Sometime 15,000 to 30,000 years ago (give or take a few years) what’s known as the Laurentide Ice Sheet came through this region, pulled like a plow through the countryside, right down to the bedrock, lifting and shattering great slabs of stone. Remnants of that glacier still exist today, bobbing in the ocean off of Baffin Island.
This ice sheet came down from Canada and when it melted it left deposits all over New England – slate, schist, granite, you name it – and then finer stuff on top. The early colonists walked into a goldmine of topsoil, something the Native Americans had discovered a lifetime before them, but over time the stones came up and up and we have been picking up the mess ever since. In fact the first people to have to deal with the stones came a generation after the original colonists and were, for the most part, farmers and Revolutionaries – radicals.
We fancy ourselves radicals as well, though we don’t rebel against any one thing. The work of our ancestors reaches across time and shapes the way we farm today, dividing our fields in a manageable way, providing homes for snakes, boundaries for forts, hiding places for Easter Eggs, and a map from the minds of problem solvers with stronger backs than I.
The Native Americans said that stones carried power or “manitou.” I feel that. I imagine them as leylines, crackling with mana or some great energy, pumping it up from the Earth and out into an infinite grid, like some batteries of ancient power, some conduit that connects our terrestrial world to the molten guts of the Earth. Sometimes I touch the stones and imagine myself jacking into some sacred mainframe. Really productive stuff.
A few notes for you all – Carter’s Green Market will be closed tomorrow (Thursday) so hopefully you can grab the goods today. Please remember to return any bags you might have, we seem to be a few short.
This week’s share has the last salad for a few weeks, some crisp radishes, a pound of carrots, a pint of mixed cherry tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers, basil, two Walla Walla onions, some wonderful tomatillos, a mixed bag of peppers, and a bunch of fat tomatoes (heirlooms included!).
Hope you dig.