Saturday, June 2, 2012


One of the features of the landscape in the part of Pennsylvania where I dwell are the stone walls found throughout the countryside. Besides the Plymouth Bay area, this is the oldest part of the United States; some of these walls were put in place by the original settlers.

This weekend I embark upon a project to add my signature to the landscape. As a soldier, engineer, and philosopher I find great satisfaction in this kind of endeavor. As I labor I can imagine I am with Leonides and the Three Hundred at Thermopylae, rebuilding the ancient wall; or with the Legion - it was their trademark to build walls and bridges wherever they went.

I intend to construct a series of terraced retaining walls, with a stone patio, steps, plant beds and a fire pit. A pergola similar to this one will be a future addition to the project.

This is backbreaking work, of course. After a lifetime of soldiering, at 53 I still have my health & fitness - my daily stretching & weightlifting routine keeps me in shape for this kind of slave labor. I'll keep you informed of progress. S.L.

Mending Wall by Robert Frost, 1914

SOMETHING there is that doesn't love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,

And spills the upper boulders in the sun;

And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

The work of hunters is another thing:

I have come after them and made repair

Where they have left not one stone on stone,

But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,

To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,

No one has seen them made or heard them made,

But at spring mending-time we find them there.

I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;

And on a day we meet to walk the line

And set the wall between us once again.

We keep the wall between us as we go.

To each the boulders that have fallen to each.

And some are loaves and some so nearly balls

We have to use a spell to make them balance:

"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"

We wear our fingers rough with handling them.

Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,

One on a side. It comes to little more:

He is all pine and I am apple-orchard.

My apple trees will never get across

And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.

He only says, "Good fences make good neighbors."

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder

If I could put a notion in his head:

"Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it

Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was like to give offence.

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,

That wants it down!" I could say "Elves" to him,

But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather

He said it for himself. I see him there,

Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top

In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.

He moves in darkness as it seems to me,

Not of woods only and the shade of trees.

He will not go behind his father's saying,

And he likes having thought of it so well

He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

Stone wall at Frost's farm in Derry, New Hampshire, which he describes in "Mending Wall"


  1. Watch your back! :-)

  2. Hooah....get some!

  3. Stack one on two or more whenever possible as opposed to one on one....

  4. That's how they built the stone at a time. To toil in the fields brings no man fame or fortune, but leaves richness for all those who come after him.