I spent most of today clearing brush from the stone wall on our land. It took hours, and I am sore.
The temperature was perfect; there were no bugs; I heard the calls of chickadees all around as I struggled against decades of neglect. For hours, I yanked dead vines out of their places, cut down reeds thick as my wrists, fought to extract them from the ground. I walked gingerly on the uneven rocks, aware of the shifting tectonics of their looseness beneath my feet. I hauled pile after pile of brush to the fire pit for a late afternoon fire.
Besides the gratification of uncovering this pretty wall, this chore gave me a new appreciation for the people who came before us and lived on this land decades ago. We knew only of the people who lived here just previously; nine years ago they built this modern house with modern accouterments: green landscaped lawn, paved driveway, vinyl fence. But today I found signs of a much older history. Long before me there were others that cared about this land, too.
First of all, there are a heck of a lot of rocks on this wall. It lines our property, so there are miles of it. That means someone cleared this land of stone upon stone, rock upon rock, in order to make this land tillable, usable. My imagination begins: were they young? In love? Recently immigrated? (as so many people were who settled here.) Did the cold of this climate and the rocky soil of this land make them weary, worn? Did the children help carry stones to the wall, build it up, laugh as they worked?
I found other mementos of them, the people who preceded me years ago. There are fence posts and rusty barbed wire. Did they also, like me, try to keep out the deer, the raccoons?
Someone planted this. I would not likely have seen it if I had left this wall uncleared. It is a good gift, and I am eager to watch it bloom.
And someone cared, like I do about birds:
We may investigate the history of this land and try to learn what the records in the court house will tell us. (An orchard? A farm? How many owners? How many generations? What year? ) Until then, in these days of lovely spring, I will imagine them, the people who walked here long ago, and I will be grateful for the remainders, the leftover signs of their lives.
Who are the people who were there, in your places, before you? What families lived in your house, walked your land, planted your flowers? Who rocked her babies to sleep, fought with her husband, hammered pictures into the walls? Imagine them, these people, who lived where you now live. Picture their faces, their body type, the color of their hair. Imagine their temperaments, their sorrows, their joys. . Tell us a story about one of their lives.