Building Walls

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall...

Robert Frost, “Mending Walls”

There have been lots of walls built throughout history … usually to keep someone or something in or out. The 5,500 mi (8,850 km) Great Wall of China, was purportedly begun in the 7th century BCE, the majority of the existing wall built during the Ming Dynasty(1368–1644). Visiting the wall is on my bucket list. I'd like to stand on it and ponder the feeling that millions of feet have walked this wall over centuries before me. It was built as an elaborate defense system to protect the “civilized” Chinese folks from the nomadic northern invaders.


great wall of china

Hadrian's Wall, a 73-mile barricade, was built c.122AD under the orders of Emperor Hadrian “to protect Roman Britain from the Picts and the other barbarian tribes that inhabited northern England and Scotland.” We stayed in Chester on one of our trips to England, so we could get up close and personal with this wall.

hadrians wall

According to Wiki, the Wailing Wall, an ancient limestone wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, is a relatively small segment of a far longer ancient retaining wall, known in its entirety as the "Western Wall". The wall was originally erected as part of the expansion of the Second Jewish Temple by Herod (although some would claim differently). The wall resulted in the encasement of the natural, steep hill known to Jews and Christians as the Temple Mount, the holiest place where Jews are permitted to pray.

It has also been called the "Wailing Wall", referring to the practice of Jews weeping at the site over the destruction of the Temples. The wall has been a site for Jewish prayer and pilgrimage for centuries; the earliest source mentioning this specific site as a place of worship is from the 16th century.

wailing wall

When we were in Peru, we had the opportunity to visit some the of walls built by the Incas. In Sacsayhuaman on the northern outskirts of Cuzco, the capital of the Inca empire, a citadel was built using huge boulders, cut to fit so tightly and exactly, no mortar was needed. We marveled at the craftsmenship of these masons.

oncan wall

In more modern times, the Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic (i.e. East Germany) that completely divided East Berlin and West Berlin (East Germany from West Germany and ostensibly from the rest of the world) from 1961 to 1989. It became symbolic of the “Iron Curtain” that separated the Eastern Bloc countries from Western Europe.

berlin wall

And then, of course, there's Trump's proposed wall along the Mexican border … we won't go there … too politically hot to touch on this blog.

So what has triggered my pondering of walls? David's recent masonry project. He built a 5' high cinder block wall in our new back yard which matches with the wall that encompasses our property. We're walled in or the neighbors are walled out, whichever way you wish to look at it.

david builds a wall

It was no easy project. We loaded 72 – 6x8x16 cement blocks weighing 28 lbs each, along with 10 cement caps and 14 half blocks onto three separate trolleys at Home Depot. We rented a truck from Home Depot, loaded the blocks onto the truck, unloaded them in the driveway, then hauled them through the gate to the backyard and stacked them for the wall-building project. Whew! The easy part was actually building the wall. After painting it the same color as the house, it looks great. The result was not to keep anyone or anything in or out, but to enclose the unsightly A/C system and make an enclosure for storing garden tools and supplies.

finished wall