New England memories

By Carol / February 10, 2011 /

Last fall my husband and I took a driving tour of New England. These states are known for their granite. The Granite State–  New Hampshire – takes center stage.

I knew when we set out that I wanted to bring back granite for my garden. Granite was truly the only souvenir I wanted. What, exactly, I would do with the granite, I had not decided. But granite would be the tangible memento we could point to and say ‘remember’ about our trip.

One small problem. Do you know that granite weighs 168 pounds per cubic foot?  Even if we could find a cubic foot of granite, picking it up and getting it into the van would have been a formidable task. But at least we had a van – more convenient than the year we loaded rocks into our luggage in Alaska!

I adapted my quest to possessing much smaller pieces of granite from each state we visited. What a delight to find that the granite we discovered (and picked up) along trails, rivers, and roadways comes in an amazing range of colors – green in Vermont, black in New Hampshire, pink in Maine. My good-natured husband cheerfully helped me find and carry blocks of granite, which can be remarkably heavy even when the pieces are smaller.

In our travels, we saw that collecting pieces of granite and assembling them into cairns is a popular way for travelers to commemorate their journeys. This was particularly true on Mount Washington, NH, which is crossed by Appalachian Trailhikers, and at Acadia National Park in Maine. Hundreds of these man-made piles of stones dotted windswept expanses on the mountain and high points of the craggy ocean shore.

By adding granite pieces to existing cairns and creating cairns that were uniquely ours – we created memories and left memories in New England for those who followed us.  We brought boxes of granite pieces and the memory of cairns back home to Iowa – where I assembled a cairn in my garden.

Cairns are temporary structures. Memories of vacations can be fleeting. But for now, each time I pass by the cairn, I enjoy a rock solid memory of the people we met, sights we saw, and experiences we had in the granite states of New England.

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