29 November 2008

Walking on walls

A bit of history. It's 1972 (the poncho should give a clue), and we'd been in Durham for about 8 months. The idea of being in an ancient inhabited landscape was thrilling after growing up in the newness of Canada. It was amazing to see medieval field patterns for the first time, from the train, and to realise these had been made by people and horses over centuries. And even before that, as we landed at Heathrow after the overnight flight, was the view of irregular fields separated by hedges, dotted with houses and villages. Quite, quite different from the grid patterns and extent of the Canadian fields I'd seen, recently appropriated from nature and worked by big machines.
A year later we were walking on walls in Menorca. This island of stony fields is full of walls, built up by farmers trying to clear enough ground for cultivation. The walls are a way of getting the stones out of the way -- but even so, large stones are often left for the animals to graze around.

In the days when medicines came in glass bottles, the walls also acted as a dumping ground, and we found many small purplish vials, took them back to the old farmhouse we were renting, a collection to make that bare space more homey.

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