Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Walk to the Weir

Just a short walk across the field, past the Wild Plums...

Were these anciently a resource, bounded by stone rows and the river?

How do wild plums respond to fire management?

...the river continues to migrate eastward, further stranding the Fish Weir...

...my new sneakers just kept slipping on the stones that humid day, Oct. 18, 2007...

...I couldn't get in there, to look for anything eroding out of the east bank, which led to the agricultural fields and no doubt drying racks for the fish headed upstream in the spring and eels in the autumn headed downstream...

New Weir link: http://www.mwpubco.com/Fishweirs.htm In particular note the mention of stone weirs



Eel links: http://www.glooskapandthefrog.org/Eel.htm


If you are travelling by canoe on the Delaware River, be careful because "Obstructions include large boulders, bridge piers and eel weirs. Avoid boulders in rapids by steering into the downstream "V." Avoid getting trapped in an eel weir by steering outside the wingwalls. Don't paddle into the "V" in this case..." http://www.upperdelawarescenicbyway.org/attractions/river/river.php

An opposing view: (Several years ago while canoe-fishing the Delaware River, Bob McNitt and I followed a downstream V in the middle of the river---usually the safest path---and discovered an eel weir dam that was still in use. Fortunately, we dodged the "basket" at the point of the V.)


Friday, September 28, 2007

Indian frontier

I was thinking about back when this place where I live was considered the Indian Frontier.
A little before, really.
Before the entire river system was taken as a right of conquest, after the last "battle" of the Pequot War, in a swamp near the mouth of the Housatonic:

"The Great Swamp Fight Here Ended the PequotWar July 13, 1637."

The war was the major turning point in the history of the Indian-white relations in colonial America, marking an end to any illusion that the Indians and whites could coexist on an equal footing. Some historians consider it one of the most important wars in New England history because it set a permanent precedent for the colonists to seize land from the Indians..."

Fairfield County's Paugussetts
Excerpt from:Westport ConnecticutThe Story of a New England Town's Rise to Prominence.
by Woody Klein
Chapter 2 The Native Americans

"The Pequot war ended with the Battle of the Great Swamp Fight located at Sasqua Swamp in Southport, Connecticut. Below is an excerpt of the Great Swamp fight from the writings of Capt. John Mason who led the search, attack and capture of the Pequot Indians

We then hastened our march towards the place where the enemy was. And coming into a corn field, several of the English spied some Indians, who fled them: they pursued them; and coming to the top of a hill, saw several wigwams just opposite, only a swamp intervening, which was almost divided in two parts. Sergeant Palmer hastening with about twelve men who were under his command to surround the smaller part of the swamp, that so he might prevent the Indians flying; Ensign Danport, Sergeant Jeffries & c, entering the swamp, intended to go into the wigwams were there set upon by several Indians, who in all probability were deterred by Sergeant Palmer. In this skirmish the English slew but few.; two or three of themselves were wounded. The rest of the English coming up, the swamp was surrounded..."


[edit] Quinnipiac Refugees
The “Quinnipiac Trail of Heartaches”[7] refers to the numerous relocations of the Quinnipiac people who became refugees as a result of the encroachment, religious conversion, and ethnic cleansing by the Puritans. Large groups, who could not remain at the regional reserved lands, embarked on a series of removals to other Algonquian groups. Some of these included, but were not limited to the Schaghticoke enclave, which began in the year 1699, after old Joseph Chuse married Sarah Mahwee (Mahweeyeuh). Sarah told Ezra Stiles of Yale that she was born at East Haven and Dr. Blair Rudes confirmed that she was indeed Quinnipiac. Joseph was a Paugusset and they were a sub-sachemship of the Long Water People, as noted by James Hammond Trumbull. The last families who had been at Turkey Hill/Naugatuck moved to Kent, Connecticut, where the Schaghticoke emerged. Today they have split into the Schaghticoke Nation and the Schaghticoke Tribe.
Other groups of refugees migrated to Brotherton at Oneida, New York, then to the White River and Muncie, Indiana; some to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and Stockbridge, Wisconsin; some to Odenak (St. Francis) and Quebec, Canada.
Others who migrated went to Pennsylvania, eastern New York, and northern New Jersey, at the Ramapo Mountain refugium, by moving from rock shelter to rock shelter, in order to survive. In the 1850s to 1900, the Quinnipiac began to return to the Long Water Land..."


I also looked at this list I found at:

Among all of them, these two stuck out:
"1634: Dutch traders introduce smallpox to what is now Connecticut. Ninety-five percent of the American Indians living along what is now the Connecticut River die. The epidemic moves north to what is now Canada. "
And the year of the Great swamp fight, 1637: "A disease believed to be scarlet fever kills New England Indians and spreads west to the Great Lakes region."

The History part of where I live begins at this time. Somewhere up the Housatonic river system, at a place called the fresh water fishing place, there once lived a band of Indian survivors of these catastrophes. In 1659, English colonists planted crops in already cleared meadows along the river, "quite to Nonnewaug Falls." Mavor and Dix, somewhere in Manitou, wrote about villages coming together at sacred places, especially by waterfalls, during these times of great upheaval.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

red stones

I showed you these two stones...

Then this stone, held like this, but didn't mention the diagonal line of lighter color...

The other stone has a polished and interesting edge to it...

I imagine these two tools "stored" on a stone row, another handaxe, like a turtle's other leg, beneath a high domed larger stone that resembles a turtle's carapace...
...In my imagination, people around here at one time remembered who had made and used those red stone tools, told stories about that person, told the stories that person used to tell, and knew who was related to that person...
...in my imagination, someone says to the other one there, "Meet you by grandfather's sleepy red legged turtle."
...in my imagination, I try out stone after stone I've seen that would be fit the picture as a carapace stone, the turtle's shell, as I get there, surprised and not surprised that it's a big green (or is it red?) stone...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

yellow hammer stone again

So I finally walked back up to the big white quartz boulder....
At first I thought the yellow hammer stone was gone...

...but it had somehow migrated to the ground downhill (it had been ten years)...

Red Instead and More

Well, I was thinking about the last two posts.

I mentioned the Yellow Hammer Stone, compared it to that one in Rhinebeck.

And then I saw the photo of a water bottle next to the stone in Rhinebeck - which appears much larger in comparison. And what in my mind is more of an anvil stone - known as a nutting stone or a cup stone:

"Variously known as "cupstones," "anvil stones," "pitted cobbles" and "nutting stones," among other names, these roughly discoidal or amorphous groundstone artifacts are among the most common lithic remains of Native American culture, especially in the Midwest, in Early Archaic contexts. They have received little study, perhaps because edged tools and weapons have more intrinsic interest to collectors, but closer study of them might reveal something of domestic practices and toolmaking technology (Cupstones of Adair County, MO by Adam Brooke Davis. 2002). http://missourifolkloresociety.truman.edu/cupstones.htm

The Yellow Hammer Stone on the Big White Quartz Boulder is similar in size to this Red Handaxe that I found in a pothole of a parking lot in a small floodplain by a brook large enough to supply waterpower to mills to the north and south.

It seems to fit easiest in my left hand...

I noticed that I put my thumb on the depression on the top of the handaxe.

Well, if I turn the stone upside down, I find a comfortable position that way too, and can easily imagine using the stone like hammer to drive stakes perhaps....

And in a comfortable position another way, I can find an abrader edge for some good sized poles perhaps....

Looking for the Red Stone, I came across this little stone that came from under the power lines, where the ATVs are grinding down the earth to levels I soon expect to find dinosaur bones in.

An abrader, I thought when I first saw it...

But there's a depression there too;

Might it be a cap stone on a fire starter too?

And just by coincidence, I had put some incense in a shell and wanted to put it on something fireproof before lighting it...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Similar stones

I think it's really fascinating to find similar stones in distant places.

That's why checking the RockPiles Blog is a daily habit with me.

Take this one,for example:

"Sunday, September 09, 2007

Further pictures of the Rhinebeck cairn
Reader Ji sent these in:"

The first thing that caught my eye was a sort of yellow stone:

To the east and south of Rhinebeck, one major river system away, along a tributary of the River known as the "Housatonic," a mahican word that means "the river beyond the mountains," is this stone on stone:

More thoughts on the Yellow Hammer stone to follow...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

More about the ATV Damage

There are many fascinating stone rows up under the power lines mentioned in the last post, some of which I have posted before, like this one showing ATV and dirt bike damage:

Another view:

Perhaps the most beautiful zigzag photo I ever took up along the power lines shows one very probable pragmatic reason Native People built them - to manage the blueberries that grew there, by selective burning, limited by the stone firebreaks:
The zigzag shape could symbolise many different things - Medicine or Mystery or Manitou, maybe lightening, maybe something else, and maybe all of the above...
Some of these rows have dissappeared, bulldozed away, maybe to be used somewhere else. One place where they occurred, almost identical to this, somebody dug for the gravel and sand, before I ever photographed them.
"I said
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you’ve got
‘Til it’s gone..."
From the song "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell - with this interesting reference I heard about at a fund raiser by an ukelele player in Honolulu just recently...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Thank You Linda Caspar

Resident Discusses ConcernsAbout Nonnewaug Falls
By: Mike Russo

Woodbury resident Linda Caspar is making efforts to stop all-terrain vehicles and motorbikes from entering the walking trails at various locations at Nonnewaug Falls. Ms. Caspar said the riding tracks (right), created by the bikers, are creating erosion on the property. A portion of the Nonnewaug Falls area was donated to the town of Woodbury in 2002 and is designated as open space for passive recreation. (Russo photo)
WOODBURY - A local woman has talked to town officials about protecting Nonnewaug Falls, an historical landmark owned by the town.
Lifelong resident Linda Caspar, who lives near the falls on Nonnewaug Road, said she regularly walks the more than 150 trails on the property as part of her daily exercise routine and is upset by what she sees on the property.
The falls, she said, has sustained erosion and land damage because of the use of motorized bikes and parties conducted on the property.
Ms. Caspar told Voices she has noticed in recent years an increase of all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes on the trails located on the steep mountainous property surrounding the falls.
She said the ATVs and other motorized bikes drive recklessly through the trails, leaving tracks that eventually erode the land.
"There could be as many as 50 ATVs here on any given weekend," she said. "They are destroying the property."
The falls, which is located in Woodbury near the Bethlehem and Watertown town lines, was owned by the Leever family for many years.
In his will, the late Dr. Harold Leever donated 50 acres of land at the falls to Woodbury and 12 acres near the falls to the Bethlehem Land Trust.
The land donated in both towns is designated as open space for passive recreation.

Another portion of the property surrounding the falls belongs to the Watertown Fire District, which leases the land to farmers for agricultural purposes.
Additional acreage comprises a right of way owned by Connecticut Light and Power for utility lines.
One of the five entrances to the falls is located on Falls Road in Bethlehem, just across the Woodbury town line.
Along the roadway leading to the entrance, no trespassing signs and fences have been installed along the fields owned by the Watertown Fire District to deter visitors and vandals from disrupting the property.
The entrance on Falls Road is intended to be used by farmers to access their fields and is equipped with a red iron gate owned by the town of Bethlehem.
Ms. Caspar, noting the gate is "rarely locked," said the lock has been damaged by vandals and not replaced.
The town of Woodbury placed signs on the property at the falls that read, "This is open space, no motorized vehicles," but the signs were damaged by vandals and never replaced.
Ms. Caspar said the ATVs and dirt bikes gain access to the falls through the unlocked gate or the CL&P right of way.
Bethlehem First Selectman Leo Bulvanoski said he has discussed the problem with police and was told the area is difficult to monitor.
"You can chase them [ATV riders] to a certain extent," he said, "but that is all you can really do."
Mr. Bulvanoski said he told Director of Public Works Jim Kacerguis to place a chain on the fence to keep it locked.
Ms. Caspar said there are late night parties on the property with camp sites and bonfires and party-goers leave behind large amounts of garbage.
"They are cutting down trees to make fires and campgrounds and leave beer bottles and garbage behind," she said, "and no one is cleaning anything up."
She said she regularly picks up garbage left behind and stops the bikers to tell them to leave the area.
"I think that might be a little dangerous," she said, "but I have nowhere to turn."
Ms. Caspar said she is concerned about the "lack" of enforcement at the falls.
"The police do not have a vehicle that can reach the area where this is happening," she said. "We need someone with some authority to keep these people out of here."
Ms. Caspar said she is trying to initiate a grassroots committee to police the area.
Ms. Caspar also contacted Dr. Nick Bellantoni, an archeologist with the State Museum of Natural History at the University of Connecticut, to assess the property.
"There are a lot of trees down," Dr. Bellantoni told Voices. "Considering the historical significance, there needs to be a management plan of cultural and natural resources."
Ms. Caspar said she spoke about her concerns to Woodbury Conservation Commission Chairman Dick Leavenworth, Land Use Director Judi Lynch and the Woodbury and Bethlehem first selectmen in an effort to find a resolution to the problems.
Mr. Leavenworth told Voices he participated in a site walk of the property with First Selectman Dick Crane and Woodbury's resident state trooper three years ago and said there is noticeable erosion taking place.
"When it rains, the water flows run through the tracks created by the motorbikes," he said. "This is causing the erosion."
Mr. Leavenworth said the Conservation Commission performs a clean-up operation at the falls twice a year as part of the Adopt-a Road program.
"The Conservation Commission will make efforts to focus on what is happening in the area," he said, "but what is complicating the issue is that motorbikes have several avenues to enter the falls, which is working against us."
He said the Conservation Commission will conduct a public site walk of the falls to assess the area in September.
"That way we can see the site and look at its potential and the problems we have assuring its proper use," he said.
Woodbury Resident Trooper Sgt. Clayton Brown said that Ms. Caspar's concerns about "lack" of enforcement in the area are unfounded.
He said the police department recently made 16 arrests for simple trespass during a party on the premises and two arrests for ATV violations in recent months.
"We are committed to public safety and every call gets investigated," he said.
Sgt. Brown said the department follows State Police pursuit policies and would not pursue an ATV or a dirt bike onto the property unless a serious crime has been committed.
"It would be very difficult for a police officer to pursue an ATV on foot," he said.
Sgt. Brown said he would work with Bethlehem law enforcement officials to limit access beyond the gate on Falls Road.
He said discussions with Woodbury town officials to present solutions are in the works.
"We need to get on the same side and select what enforcement possibilities there are," he said. "Limited vehicle usage would cut down on vandalism and damage going on up there."
Sgt. Brown said the difficulties with policing the area are the accessibility to the property and the personnel resources of the department.
Sgt. Brown said since the summer season is coming to a close, it is a good time to get a start on developing an enforcement plan for next spring.
"Now a lot of the kids are going back to school; it is a good time to get a game plan together for next year," he said.
Sgt. Brown said people who are caught trespassing would be charged with third degree criminal trespass and people who are drinking alcohol would be charged with liquor law violations, which include a fine of $136.
People starting fires would be charged with reckless burning, which is a class D felony.
Ms. Caspar suggested designating the land as a state park, saying that would stop the problems with ATVs, dirt bikes and late-night parties.
Mr. Crane noted Nonnewaug Falls is designated as open space and, according to Dr. Leever's will, the falls must remain open space.
"Since it is open space, it can be used as passive recreation and a town meeting cannot change that," he said.
Mr. Crane said that police patrol the area frequently.
"If there is illegal activity going on there, that would be taken care of," he said.
Mr. Crane said the fire pits used at the camp sites have been inspected by Fire Marshal Janet Morgan and meet land regulations. He said the fire department plans on using the land for training drills in the future.
Mr. Crane said he appreciates Ms. Caspar's concerns, but there needs to be cooperation from the residents in the area to police the area.
"Cooperation of the residents would be appreciated instead of spending taxpayers' money for a job that should be done by parents," he said, "and if they are adults, they should know better and take responsibility for their own actions."
The Conservation Commission's public site walk is scheduled for Saturday, September 29.
Anyone who observes any suspicious activity at Nonnewaug Falls is asked to call the Woodbury Resident Trooper's office, 203-263-3400.

©Voices 2007

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Yet Another Turtle Island

A few years back, I was taking classes at Northwest Community College. During breaks I would sometimes talk with Terry, an archeologist from Austrailia who told me that the original inhabitants thought of the island as a turtle that had emerged from the sea.

Here's something that looks familiar...

"A stone arrangement of a sea turtle"

"This sea turtle was built by the Kabi Kabi people, the Quandamooka people or the Komburrierri people, all of which are coastal aboriginal tribes of south-east Queensland. It is located at the Meringindan site, which was used for special ceremonies by men and also contains many other significant stone arrangements, relics from the days of the Bunya Mountains Festival."



Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Some Ecological Aspects...

I'm not sure who wrote this article I came across, but it's called:

"Some Ecological Aspects of Northeastern American Indian Agroforestry Practices"

It links to something I'd used in a posting a while ago, an article by Doug MacCleery that was quite good.

In this one the suggestion is made that "If the Indians used methods such as the one described by Martin, above, the areas burned could have been even smaller," referring to the removal of grass to control a fire. I keep mentioning stone rows to contain fires here on this blog, so imagine that..

"This paper was written in 1984 while I was a student of Professor Arthur Lieberman at Cornell University. Professor Lieberman was then Director of the Cornell Tree Crops Research Project and taught landscape ecology in the Department of Landscape Architecture. This version was submitted to the international journal Agroforestry Systems in 1988, but never published there due to its length. A somewhat condensed version was later published in the 1994 Annual Report of the Northern Nut Growers Association (Volume 85). For a broader perspective on Native Americans' land management practices, see this online article by Doug MacCleery."

“IV. Ecological Aspects of Controlled Forest Burning
The term "controlled burning" is used advisedly here, considering the lack of specific information in the early accounts about how the Indians actually managed the fires they set, although Martin [52] cited one account of Indians uprooting the grass around the circumference of an area they intended to burn in order to prevent the fire from running back. Martin stated that "all other early references to Indian burning are unsubstantial" (i.e., unspecific), in making the point that the Indians were not the "irresponsible incendiaries" that some early colonists [20] and some historians [54] claimed them to be. Indeed, it is likely that in their thousands of years of experience with fire the Indians would have learned as much as (if not more than) we know today about how meteorological, vegetational, and topographical factors interact to control the course of a fire [93].
If the forest fires were set in November or April, as stated in nearly all the early accounts, the soil would have been moist, since these months typically have increased precipitation in the Northeast [69]. Furthermore, during these months very little or no water is being withdrawn from the soil by transpiring vegetation. Thus, a fire would have consumed only the dry grass and some or most of the dry leaves. Intense fires which destroy the organic soil layer or reach the tree crowns would not normally have occurred at these times of year.
Bodies of water such as streams, swamps, lakes, and rivers would have stopped a fire. Rocky ridges or hilltops, where grass and leaves would have been sparse, would also probably have stopped most fires in November or April. For these reasons, most fires probably would have been limited by natural factors to relatively small areas between streams and ridges. If the Indians used methods such as the one described by Martin, above, the areas burned could have been even smaller…

Figure 3. Research site at the Connecticut Arboretum in New London, CT. This area has been burned annually since 1981. Burning has slowed invasion by tree species. Species which have increased due to burning are low-bush blueberry, viburnums, arrowhead, huckleberry and sweet fern.

…Fire rotation times, or the length of time between fires [92], have been hypothesized for the oak and pine types [47]:
. . . fires may have burned at intervals of 3 years or less on the drier forested sites, at 1-year intervals in the grasslands, and at long intervals--100 years or so--on the wetter forested sites, at which times severe fires could have developed during drought periods in certain types . . .
A three year fire rotation time in the oak-hickory savannah would probably have maintained the type indefinitely [21]. Similarly, a one year fire rotation time would probably have maintained the grasslands indefinitely. If such were the case, the sequential agroforestry practices described in Section III would not have been very significant in extent, except perhaps on some of the poorly drained grassland soils which might not actually have burned each year. Less frequent burning of the grasslands, or use of fire breaks as indicated by Martin [52], would have allowed for establishment of tree cover on old fields. In any case, berry production and large bird habitat would have been byproducts of the grass and/or tree-covered fallow fields.
Moist forest sites on long fire rotation times would have added edge and wildlife shelter to the landscape. These areas would have been refuges for the smaller birds and mammals which were not adapted to the grasslands or fire forest [8], and for larger birds and mammals in hot weather and during winters with deep snow. The hemlock-pine stands typical of these areas [11] would have intercepted snowfall and allowed easier browsing. Areas with deep soils in moist areas would undoubtedly have grown some butternut or black walnut [30]; nuts of the butternut were especially important to the diets of Indians in northern parts of the Northeast [14, 63].
We will probably never know the actual extent of the fire-adapted oak-hickory savannahs and grasslands that the Indians created where the present day oak and pine types are now found, but their existence cannot be seriously doubted in light of the historical accounts and of modern research on the effects of fire on ecosystems. Periodic low intensity fires in November or April would have increased primary production of vegetable foods for humans and wildlife by 20-100% and would have concentrated the food production within easy feeding reach of large birds and mammals. Competition for these foods from rodents, insects, and fungi would have been reduced. Large birds and mammals (e.g., grouse and deer) would have increased 100 to 400% in the periodically burned forest. The Indians were doubtless very much aware of these beneficial effects of fire, and managed their environment accordingly.
The sustainability of the Indian agroforestry systems is of course open to question. But there seems to be no evidence that serious "leaks" would have developed, in the sense indicated by Harper [36]:
Agriculture deliberately channels energy and mineral resources out of one area into another and in addition it commonly creates "leaks" in otherwise self-maintaining systems.
Since soil would have been exposed to erosive forces only following very infrequent severe burns, and since nutrient losses would have been minimal or non-existent, no leaks of these resources should have occurred. And, obviously, there would have been no inputs (losses) of fossil fuel energy in the form of fertilizers, herbicides, or machinery fuel [64]. The only leaks would have been in the form of the food crops which the Indians harvested from their agro-ecosystems. it is interesting to note in this regard that historical records indicate that the Indian fields were able to produce crops of corn equal to or greater than the settlers' fields [83]--without use of draft animals or plows; these same Indian fields also produced crops of beans and squash which the settlers' fields did not…”

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Most Endangered Sacred Sites List

I came across this in a search:


They write: "Sacred Sites International strives to bring international recognition of both these precious spiritual and cultural resources and the threats by which their continued existence is left in question. For more information about the 2005 Most Endangered Sacred Sites List or about Sacred Sites International, including how you can get involved to enact change to protect these sacred place, contact Sacred Sites International at 1442A Walnut Street #330, Berkeley, CA 94709
Sacred Sites International Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of sacred sites and their traditional cultures and is based in Berkeley, California..."

ssif / preservation / the 2007 most endangered site list

Compare to:
National Trust Announces 11 Most Endangered Places


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Modern Rocks

Here's a pile at Sandy Beach on Oahu.

Could be a fishing shrine, could be a spot someone was sleeping at, or almost anything.

Down at this beach there were many little shrines to people lost at sea. Further down the road was a famous Japanese Fishing Shrine I never took a photo of, but lots of other people did, creating a traffic hazard, very close to the spot they filmed that "Kissing in the Rolling Surf" scene in from the movie "Here to Eternity"...

A bartender at The Crouching Lion (a rock formation that looks like a crouching lion in a place that has no lions, crouching or in any other position) likes to balance rocks down at the shore across the highway from the restaraunt.
The rainbows arrived at the same time we did...