Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Farmer's Invisible Hand

April is Archaeology Month 

I took this photo last week. I was interested in the way the white snow traced the outlines and defined the contours of the sharply contrasting dark shapes of the old iron. I enjoy old iron. I find it very artistic, aesthetic and appealing. For previous blogs on old iron see this link and this link.   

I also find old iron mysterious, yet revealing, on a number of levels in part because it can be seen as "above ground archaeology" as evidence, in this case a key to the farmer's invisible hand that formed a landscape loved by artists and tourists that for the most part has disappeared. The clues of the farmer's invisible hand can be seen in this remarkable paring of images on the stair hall at the Conway Public Library.

For previous blogs on these images see these links here, here and here. In the large print on the right can be seen the natural raw materials for the posts in the painting on the left. These large stones were shaped and spread out by the glaciers thousands of years ago.

They were perfect for farmers to split for the foundations of the buildings you see in the print as well as fence posts, sign posts, bridge abutments, culverts, chimney supports, well covers, curbs, boundary markers, mill dams and races, door stoops, steps and so on.

The smaller stones ranging in size from baseballs to basketballs were piled with care and skill to create the stone walls which encircled fields for livestock to graze. In the detail of the print above you can see the stone walls as they meander up and over the hills. In the detail below, you can see how they extended out like a patchwork quilt into the flat fields of the intervale that extended out along the Saco River.

It was through this farming activity that these fields were cleared and kept clear for artists to discover and create thousands of paintings of the White Mountains.

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