Friday, August 15, 2014

Stone Diamondback Terrapin

The Humpty Dumpty Situation Turtle


    The paper trail history of this old saltbox house I live only goes back to the "homelott" allotment of 1734. The origin of the house might go back to the first "deed' or the Nonnewaug Purchase of 1700, or possibly the confirmatory deed of 1710. Perhaps it is the frame of a house, recorded in an old local history, that was traded for another salt box not too far away, explaining how the Atwood family came to own it rather than the Minor family - just like that "Miller's House" down by the old bridge and mill ruins. I think this house my family lives in predates old early sawmill, framed on the spot from chestnut trees into timbers, a small wall showing it was built from a section of a single tree pit sawn and nailed with big hand made rosehead nails, the cambian edge still intact, placed bole end up and bole end down alternately for about five feet.
    I think the house was built over time, put here by the Pomperauge Plantation, regarded as John Minor's property perhaps, since he was the Indian Interpreter and Military leader of the group, keeping an eye on the Nonnewaug Wigwams, waiting to acquire those already cleared floodplain fields, waiting for the big move that I infer happened in that year of 1734, when Indigenous People began to gather together at Schaghticoke.
     The property has some stone features, furniture of the cultural landscape of the before 1700's that includes rows of stones and stone heaps. Much of the newer stone work around here has been borrowed from the older since it is very easy to do so and reused since around 1700, fancy work to fill and everything inbetween.  Such as a garden border or some cement steps. It would be an impossible Humpty Dumpty Situation to try to put anything back together, but I am in the habit of placing found stones of the same color together here and there on a stone wall or in my garden, although some of the really striking ones sit on a shelf or two inside. Sometimes they are found right together, as if picked up at the same time from one of the stone piles in the yard and put down together once again.
  Two interesting moments occurred just this week.

This bunch came from a former garden border; I had noticed a possible turtle shell and head resemblance - especially the back edge that could be said to greatly resemble a snapping turtle. A year or more later I thought I'd put the two other similar stones with it, as if to resemble forelegs:




The second was earlier in the week at some crumbling cement steps made in the 1960's, same sort of stone, oddly enough, but given the same sort of trial placement as testudinate:





     

Monday, August 11, 2014

Up There with the Bear

I don't think I ever posted these photos from March 2014:
It's up there, the Bear. If you follow the little brooklet up from the floodplain, here where the remnants of the zigzag row of stones that border the riparian zone of both sides of the water feature disappear, south of the farm path across the stream, a little historic feature composed of cobbles tossed to fill the soggy spot, make a cart path, a little sort of causeway.
The edges are simple rows of cobbles...



There's a Bear Up There:









"ABOUT a mile north of the village of Old Saybrook, on the road to Essex, is a spot known as"Obed's Heights," from which no finer view in the valley of the Connecticut is to be found. One looks down upon the woods, with the shadows and sunlight falling upon them, and the peaceful Connecticut, far to the north, quietly flowing in and out among the low-lying hills and ever broadening as it flows until it is lost in the Sound. Lying far below to the south, the village of Old Saybrook, with its quiet streets and grand old elms; beyond, the settlement of Fenwick, and then the shining waters of the sound that are ever darkening and changing.
At the foot of the "heights," among the pines, is a broad tablelike rock known as "Obed's Altar." The Indian chief. Obed, was the son of a Hammonasset chief. After the Pequots were subdued, he accepted a lowly position among the whites. The Saybrook records mention Obed as a servant to Colonel Fenwick, who gave him a piece of land to the west of the mouth of the river, known as "Obed's Homok." Later he owned fields above the village, and it was near the rock mentioned he built his wigwam...Obed had one child, a daughter, whose Indian name meant "the Red Bird." This child was the last of the royal blood. She became converted, was baptized by the name of Adina, and always sat on a stool in the minister's pew. "The Red Bird" was a beautiful Indian girl, of whom her father was very proud and loved deeply. She returned his affection and took good care of him. Before long a lover appeared from the east of the river—a pale face. This did not meet the approval of Obed, who had already promised his daughter in marriage to a red man of their own tribe, but "the Red Bird" loved the pale face and refused to give him up. Obed resolved to compel her to do so, and it was hard for "the Red Bird" to disobey him, but in this matter she remained firm. One stormy evening, after an unpleasant talk with her father, who threatened to separate the lovers, "the Red Bird" left him and. meeting her lover, together they went to the bank of the river, untied their boat and rowed out into the sound. By this time the rain fell in torrents, and the rising wind soon blew a gale. The beautiful Indian girl and her lover were never again heard from. Their boat drifted in, a wreck. Obed was overwhelmed with sorrow and could not be comforted, feeling he alone was the cause of his daughter's death and that he must do something to atone for it. He determined to offer a daily sacrifice, and chose a large granite rock near his home for the altar. To this spot Obed brought each day a part of the game he had captured, and early in the morning smoke could always be seen rising from his altar, and the village people knew Obed was trying to atone for his sin.
Parson Buckingham talked frequently with Obed and tried to show him the true way to receive pardon, and urged him to turn to the God of his daughter and the white man. One day Obed told Parson Buckingham he desired to accept his God. Never again was smoke seen rising from the altar, for on the next morning Obed was found lying dead upon the rock where he had offered his sacrifices." - 1905 Connecticut Magazine article


And there's a possible deer nearby on another boulder:


   Gladys Tantaquidgeon wrote about bear, deer, and sacrificing tobacco in "Folk Medicine of the Delaware and Related Algonkian Indians (1972, 1995)" (pg. 60): 
"Wild animals, as pointed out by F.G. Speck (1931: 28-29), are in general considered to exist in clan relationship with humans. The latter are said to be "kings among animals." Clean pure animals of the forest are referred to in terms of human relationship and their spirits must be propitiated before they can be sought for food. If the supernaturals are appeased through sacrifices, the animals will allow themselves to be taken, but if the proper ceremonies are not carried out, they can never be approached by humans. 
 Therefore, a hunter is obliged to pray and sacrifice tobacco before starting on the hunt... The Delaware consider the bear and deer to be the greatest of all animals. The bear is also called "Our Grandfather." Both animals are considered closely akin to the Indian, but the Delaware believe that the bear has the most human-like traits..."

And there are also some low mounds:



Branching off to the west is a linear stone row, an interesting boulder that could suggest a snake or serpent head as it's End Stone:

Some quartz in that row of mostly cobbles:

Above, the quartz could be said to resemble and represent a turtle head, the slender curved stone beside it could be interpreted as the extended left foreleg and the thin stone between the suggested head the nuchal notch in the marginal scutes below:


(It occurred to me that day that it was if it was like a little stone heap that could have been added to an already existing row of stones, possibly the work of a single person perhaps... 



The row disappears near the trail, but two more rows meet close by:


Farther down the trail, in the east/west row of stones almost four feet tall, another interesting piece of quartzite:



Tuesday, August 05, 2014