10 February 2015
He knows the stones that make up the wall as well as he knows his friends. His hand rests on one affectionately, as on the shoulder of a companion of old; and he knows the story of finding each one as well as he knows how he first met his boyhood friends.
The wall is long and curved; it runs waist-high in graceful mirrored arcs from the road along under the trees to the back of the brick house he built by hand for his bride in 1959. Gray and brown, green and pink and pure crystalline quartz; as big as a loaf of bread or as small as the diamond on the finger of a humble man’s wife; the stones are fitted and dry-stacked – pieced together as surely as a quilt – into a bulwark that is stout and silent and immutable.
Stones, in one form or another, run through Charles Greer’s life like a vein of granite runs through the gentle foothills of the Blue Ridge, rambling along for a distance here, disappearing under fertile soil there, cropping back up at the crest of a ridge. He remembers first a fascination with arrowheads.
“When I was in grade school,” Greer began, “I found an arrowhead. The first one I ever found was when I was pushing my bicycle up a hill near the creek and I was looking down, and a white arrowhead was laying right there in the road. I didn’t much know what an arrowhead was,” he said with a smile, “but I took it home and my mom and dad were so excited.” Greer remembers an uncle giving him one he found, and trading arrowheads and other small treasures with a few of his classmates at Palmyra School.