Creek Rock Wall

No matter how many times Lewis told his twelve-year-old son, Wendell, to stay off of the creek rock walls on the west side of the farm, it never failed that when Lewis found himself there, creek rock had fallen on both sides of the wall.

The walls were built years earlier, at the turn of the century, by people who lived this land well before Lewis bought it. He sometimes thought about rebuilding them using mortar, but they wouldn’t be true to the times, and for some reason he needed them to be. People only got a certain amount of time on this earth, and these people were gone; it was up to him to keep these walls in place, and be true to them by keeping them the way they had been built. The CCC built some further north, and he knew how hard those men worked. He was in the CCC and built trails and gazebos for Natural Bridge State Park. He’d be awfully upset if those trails and things he built were allowed to go back to nature; that’s why he was adamant about these walls.

Since it was Sunday, and Father’s Day, his seven-year-old daughter, Evangeline, had insisted on coming with him. She was still at that innocent age where everything he did was right and good. It was nice to have her there. She sometimes came out to find him working during the summers or evenings, and it always made his heart swell when he saw her light brown hair crossing the field toward him.

“Can I help put the rocks on?” Evangeline asked.

“How about you put them next to the wall so I can put them on.”

Evangeline smiled and gathered rocks. Lewis knew this wouldn’t last forever, but he loved it while it was here. Already, at twelve, Wendell was showing signs of rebellion - like walking around on this wall - but also smoking behind the house and barns and stealing money from Lewis. They didn’t have much money; they didn’t need it disappearing.

Wendell had even recently told him that he didn’t want to grow up to be a farmer. For as many generations as Lewis could remember, and then more besides, his family had been farmers. But times were changing. It was 1952. People were moving away from the farms and into the cities. It made him sad to think about.

When they were done, he said, “Good job, Evangeline. You ready for dinner? I think your mama was making a big one.”

They headed back to the farmhouse and had a big dinner, sitting around the table until it was supper time and eating their fill again.

When Lewis went past the wall a couple days later, it was ruined worse than it had been before he fixed it. He shook his head, wondering at the futility of keeping the wall together, and of keeping the farm going when his son didn’t even want to inherit it.