This painting features a beech tree. A favorite of black bear for the beechnuts, you will often see claw marks on the smooth bark. In hiking the forest in the Green Mountains you will come across these ancient walls at impossibly steep angles. These walls were built 200 years ago using oxen and stoneboats. They were a way to use all of the stone left in the soil after the glaciers retreated. All of Vermont was agricultural in the past so there are thousands of miles of walls across the landscape. If you dig or plow the soil here you can’t help but unearth field stone. The easiest thing for the farmers to do was build walls with all the stone both to delineate property lines and fields and keep in animals.
These walls lend a sense of time and history to the landscape. Since Vermont has substantially reforested over the last century most of the walls are in deep forest now. The juxtaposition of the wildness of the forest with the hand-wrought aspect of these ancient walls I find moving. They show the temporality of our existence on the land.