quite a number of years now, around the area of Ottawa, Canada.
For the most part I've simply enjoyed seeking out patterns of
filtered light and tree limbs, but I've long taken note of the stones and
boulders and little escarpments that live in the conservation areas around
Ottawa. Then I more or less stumbled onto rockpiles.blogspot.com.
Your part of the continent obviously displays a lot more richness in
its rockpiles than my part up here. The trails I walk have their occasional
pioneer house foundations alongside, and one trail is dedicated to the ruins
of a 19th-century lime kiln. But we seem to be lacking in mysterious stone
walls and the rockpiles I've noticed so far seem a bit more ambiguous than
Nevertheless, I trotted out to the woods specifically with rockpiles
in mind the other day, and I've prepared a few shots in a gallery if you're
The picture titled "a subtle cluster" shows the sort of ambiguity
I'm talking about. Its clearly a collection of stones of similar size, but
not the sort of pile that stands out. I've taken to alling these things
The picture "how we say what is human" shows what is pretty
obviously the result of a bored lunch hour while clearing brush, but I use
it to think about how we judge what is manmade and what is natural. How do
we know a collection of stones has been placed by the hand of man and not by
geological action? And then, how to know what was placed in antiquity, and
what was put there five years ago after a grad party?
I'm still learning.
The last three shots - two of a stone with a pronounced, rounded,
groove as well as "tooth" marks, and one of a vertically-placed triangular
stone - are my best indicators so far of the possibility that better things
lie in these woods. Not a 20-minute walk from my house are three glacial
erratics that cause me no doubt at all: they have the rounded-but-ground-up
look of glacial artifacts. But as undoubted natural features, these contrast
strongly with the look of many smaller stone features I'm seeing, which are
squared or angular.
I don't have a dog in the fight over who exactly produced these rock
artifacts. But I will say that I think North America was well-known in
antiquity and although an ocean is a barrier to a tweedy academic, it's a
highway to anyone who's alternative is slow and rigorous land travel.
Won't keep you. Have a look at the pictures. If you like, there's
more woods-walking pictures in the gallery at
Cheers and good luck!