Stone in Motion

Free stone construction is a practice of seeking. The contents of a pile of loose stone is just waiting to be found out. Everything needed to create a sturdy structure is there. The possibilities are discovered as they’re uncovered, then explored and exploited, one after another. Moment by moment, movement by movement, stones topple into place. Their size, shape and center of gravity are predetermined by the natural forces that made them, but their status in a construction relies on an instant, reflexive response to their stature by the builder.

Acceptance of whatever is offered by a stone supply clears the way for what’s there to fully present itself. Doors open when one truly wants to know what’s on the other side. The more that’s sought, the more bountiful become the returns.

Being in motion in the outdoors brings awareness of the movement all around. Taking part in the ongoing momentum puts a wind at the builder’s back. Earth experiences a daily rotation on its yearly orbit around the sun, while the sun spins once every 25 days on its 230 million year circuit around the Milky Way. The beauty of it all is that it’s not a race. Keeping up just means keeping moving.

The free stone field fences I’ve been laying up on a property in Harrisville, New Hampshire now measure in the hundreds of linear yards. The three distinct building styles I’ve employed result from taking the best advantage of the material immediately at hand, and the recognition that the viewing perspective on the fences from the home are different depending on their location on the property. The side view of the fence situated in the field above the house is what’s most visible, so for that one I built a tall, “singling” style construction. The top of the fence below the house is the most visible part of that one, so I built a wide topped, “consumption” style fence there. The construction I’m doing now is with large boulders collected from four acres of ground that was until recently woodland. The timber was harvested, the stumps pulled and the surface stones collected. The fence, when finished will divide hay field from pastureland.