Most people don't associate Connecticut with farmland. But once upon a time, it was all farmland. My town is known for its onion farms. In fact, we still have wild onions that pop up in our yard. But the other thing that we grow in abundance is a bumper crop of stones. Every spring I begin to dream about a beautiful garden filled with perennials that will come back year after year with little to no maintenance. But the very first attempt to dig in my yard meets with rocks, rocks and more rocks. It's quite disheartening. What's a person to do with so many rocks? Well, I'm glad you asked. Because for centuries people have been putting these rocks aside and using them to build the quintessential New England stone wall. But there's not a standard look or shape of a stone wall. On my morning walk, I decided to snap pictures of the various sizes and shapes and styles of these walls to show you just what I mean.
This first wall is a utilitarian wall. It's basically meant to say "Let me get these darned rocks out of my yard and I'll mark the boundary of my property while I'm at it." While this neighborhood is only about 60-70 years old, this style of a stone wall is as old as time itself.
The second wall is the opposite extreme. This is hewn rock laboriously fit together, piece by piece by a seasoned mason. The original stone wall was added to and doubled (or tripled) in height by a new neighbor. That neighbor moved and the next neighbor wanted even more privacy, so the white wooden fence on top of the stone wall appeared. This type of a privacy wall has become a common practice this century.
This is the most common type of stone wall I see on a daily basis. It's a stone wall, that may or may not have been hewn slightly. It's probably more likely than not, just well placed stones in such an order that they stay in place. These old style stone walls generally have no mortar.
Another view across the street of this classic look.
More basic - but same idea. This is on a main road and our town has been around since colonial times (maybe even longer - as the Pequot Indians have been here for 7,500 years.) I wouldn't be surprised to discover that some of these basic stone walls were built when settlers first came to Westport in 1693.
Contrast that old with the new. Here is a stone wall I saw being built in the last 15 years. Look how perfectly the stones fit together. Once again, the privacy wooden fence on top has become the norm.
Here's another take on the modern stone wall with a privacy fence.
Here's a favorite of mine. It's the historical marker in front of the stone wall in front of the The Wakeman House where F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda lived when he wrote The Great Gatsby.
But I digress...
Here's a favorite wall of every child I have ever seen walking along this sidewalk. It's got a nice smooth concrete top to the stone wall that runs the length of the Long Shore Golf Course - once a private country club - but now the town public golf course since the 1970s. I don't know why - but children always seem to love to walk on top of walls. This stone wall maintains a bit of a historic look with its natural placement of stones which seem to be selected but not really hewn to fit together nicely with the concrete top for a more modern look.
Of course, what country club would be complete without a big fancy entrance. This is the only break to that otherwise perfectly child-friendly stone wall along the golf course. And although I prefer the natural look of most of the stone walls, I definitely appreciate a bit of grandeur at the entrance to the now-public town golf course.
After the golf course, we head home and see a larger variety of the types of stone walls. See what I mean about a bumper crop of rocks? I'm sure several years ago, these were not there. They seem to get pushed to the surface after years of freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw. OK - that's not a scientific theory - it's just my thought.
Finally, we get to my favorite stone wall. Why? Because it's the one I look at every day. It's in my yard. You don't see as many of these, but they exist. Someone decided to place the top layer of stones vertically to give it a decorative look. Or perhaps it was to discourage young children from walking on top of this stone wall. I don't know. But it's the stone wall that borders my yard and I like it.
How about you? What is something you walk past nearly every single day, but don't stop to appreciate? Please share your thoughts and post about your quotidian vistas that make your part of the world unique and memorable.