History Surrounds Us

Part of our west boundary wall

In this case, it quite literally surrounds us.

Take a walk through any Rhode Island woods, or drive down our highways, and you’ll see them. Miles and miles of grey granite walls, snaking off into the distance.

East boundary wall, near the pond

Our four-acre plot is bound on all sides by these reminders of our past. We know that a family named Almy lived here in the late 18th and early 19th century, so it’s logical to assume that they built these walls. Some of  them have fallen, others are still so straight, you would think they had been built recently.

Fine Yankee craftsmanship

The stones that make up our walls must have been both blessing and curse to the colonists. On the one hand, they were a free source of building material, dug by the hundreds when preparing the ground for planting. Walls, chimneys, and even entire houses were built from stones cleared from the fields. On the other hand, there’s no such thing as clearing a field once up here – the freeze/thaw cycle pushes new stones to the surface every spring, in such great numbers that they were referred to as “Yankee Potatoes.”

Wall in the woods

The fields have long since gone back over to woods and marshland. Houses, like ours, sit in what might have been pastures for the cows. But these sturdy old New Englanders left us a record of this land as they knew it, a patchwork stitched together with granite thread…

An old iron fence post sits at the NW corner of our property

Note: John and I are traveling today, so I won’t be able to get to your comments for a few days. Soon as the jet-lag clears from my head, I’ll tell you where we are!


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