Force of Nature

When I built this wall in Jamaica, Vermont, thirty-odd years ago, my concern for its longevity came out of its close proximity to the road. I expected  a car might back into it, or the snow plow jostle it. The notion that Ball Mountain Brook might one day destroy it never crossed my mind. But that’s just what happened a month ago when rain from Hurricane Irene turned the mild stream into a raging cataract. Brook waters tore away the bank, sweeping away not only a section of the stone wall but half the house, as well.

I give presentations about my work, and historic dry stone walls, to groups from time to time. A question  often asked by the audience is, “How long will a stone wall last?” My answer usually begins with, “It depends...” and goes on to catalogue factors that could influence a wall’s longevity. I guess I’ll have to put ‘hurricane destruction’ on top of the list from now on.