The same thing is true of the larger environment.
Here's the first in a series about settings.
Maine, and New England generally, are in my blood. Our connection goes back to the seventeenth century when some of my ancestors settled in what would eventually become Salem. They probably should have stayed in England - their decision proved quite disastorous in 1692.
The landscapes I grew up with and love are bordered by forests, the Atlantic, and a superimposed grid of stone walls. Sometimes these fences are odes to OCD perfectionism, other times they are barely recognizable as purposeful structures, and look more like some giant left a trail of stones, much as Hansel and Gretel left breadcrumbs.
It's especially easy to spot these relics of early farming life in autumn and winter, when the foliage is gone. Many times Nature has taken over the fields they once bordered, and turned open land back into woods.
Sometimes an artifact even more dramatic appears, like a foundation or this - a naturally deposited slab of granite that during the early eighteenth century formed the rear wall of a dwelling. The rock is called Tyler's Back. The Tyler family ran a mill along what is now called Tyler Brook. It's about two miles from my house. Not far from here a woman was killed by the former landowners, Abenakis.
Stone walls are often the only remaining evidence of early settlers. The cycle of freeze and melt in this latitude pushes up a new crop of boulders every spring. Finding building materials was never an issue.
In 1939 a mining engineer used USDA historical data to estimate that there were 240,000 miles of stone walls in New England. That's almost ten times around the equator, or all the way to the moon.
That's IF the walls were in a straight line. But of course they aren't. They were built to mark property lines and to corral livestock.
According to one estimate, the labor involved would have built the Pyramids of Egypt one hundred times over.
|A little over a mile from my house|
You select your parameters (plot, setting, characters) and you decide where you want this wall to begin and end. What you want to keep in. And what you want to keep out.
even long after anyone who actually knew you is gone.