The front door of my farmhouse faces directly east, with an additional door opening in each of the other directions: north, south, and west. It is the sole remaining building of a large farm and acreage that wound its way between layers of limestone down to the infamous Slippery Rock Creek.
The barn, that met its end before my parents purchased the property in 1940, was built of stone. Though a few remnants of its former construction can be found under the twists and tangles of knee high grass across the road, the majority of the stone was used to build extensive walls around the house. A high stone wall supports the front yard, making two 45 degree turns to accommodate wide stone steps that lead down to the road where our rural mailbox stands.
The driveway is lined with stone walls which have been adjusted many times over the years as cars have become wider. Currently a pile of extra stone lies at the foot of the driveway in a heap around al Maple tree. My husband had always intended to ring the tree to make me another flower bed. I may still ask his cousin to do it.
The left wall of the driveway wraps around and follows the back walk. It rises almost 3 feet and is the home to chipmunks, mice, voles, moles, and the occasional snake. It too, hosts lovely stone steps and terminates in the rock garden where my mother tended her wildflowers for years.
The one step into our family room is a huge foundation stone. I fell and broke my kneecap on it once but that never dimmed it’s beauty for me. The step up onto the front walk through the arbor of trumpet vine is a lintel from the old barn. It is a gorgeous old relic and I feel like patting it whenever I go by.
Each of these stones is living a second life – not the one they were (literally) cut out for. They no longer house horses and cows feeling their moist breath misting the walls in winter. Nor do they hold the sweet smell of newly baled hay in summer. Now they lie in the summer sun, a fine furry moss dusting their angles. They are no less valuable, no less beautiful. Were they crushed for gravel, they would still be useful and I have no doubt that children would fill their pockets with the most beautiful specimens. We could never be so placid among life’s changes but then rocks don’t have feelings. Or do they?