Get Your Celtic On

I'm not ethnic. I don't trumpet my ancestry like it's a big deal - it's just the sheer randomness of the universe.

But I grew up spending my summers in a part of the south of France where there are dolmens all over the place. They used to be the destination for hikes and sometimes we'd climb and play on them or use them as a sort of picnic table. Considering that they'd lasted since prehistoric times, it's not like we'd hurt them.

Nowadays I live in Pennsylvania, where earth-moving and mining is a way of life - several of my neighbors own backhoes. One day I was driving down the road by my studio and a guy with a big Komatsu hoe was hauling a gigantic rock across the road, to dump it (presumably) in the woods on the other side. I stopped and asked him if he was getting rid of it and, if he'd be interested in $250 to take it a couple miles up the road and dump it in my yard. That's how I ended up with a 12+ ton slab of lovely limestone. I was going to use it as a foundation for an outdoor wood-fired pizza oven, but it was too pretty so, after spending a couple months mowing around it I got one of the locals who does earth-moving to haul some other rocks from around my yard (foundation-stones from a collapsed barn, actually) and construct a dolmen. Watching him do this was nerve-wracking, since the rear wheels of his backhoe kept coming up off the ground whenever he'd push the rock.

It is not going to blow away.

That was so fun, when I was talking to the earth-mover this summer, I asked him if he had more rocks. "Oh, hell yes - haven't you seen my lot?" Well, no I hadn't. So I hopped over there and it turned out that he had a part of his property where there was a rock-face he'd been digging away at - huge slabs of stone had been falling down for years. I came a couple days later with some paint and marked a couple rocks and he loaded them up, trucked them over, and built this:

It doesn't look like much, right? But some of those rocks weigh 10 tons and stand 12 feet tall. The bummer of that is that 6 feet of them is buried. We talked about how to build it and concluded that the best way to make sure the stones stay standing until post-historic times would be to bury them with the big end down, with at least half of the mass below the surface. I don't think we'll need to worry about frost-heave. And, I don't think they'll blow over in the winter.

They look awesome; they're right up on the crest-line of my field, which dominates the surrounding countryside. I can see them from the house and they look awesomely cool on foggy evenings when they stand out against the mist like strange hunched creatures. The local crows have already adopted them as lookout-points, which I think is also awesome. Most of the time when you look out at them, there is a crow or two perched on one of the rocks, checking out the action.

Bellwether Farm, Morrisdale Pennsylvania. July 27 2011