Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Landscape History of Central New England


Pre-Settlement Forest - 1700 A.D. In the pre-settlement forest, natural variation across sites and ongoing natural and human disturbance processes led to differences in age, density, size, and species of trees across a wide range of sites. Notice the large trees and large fallen trunks on the right in the diorama. Compare them with the smaller, younger trees, including species intolerant of shade such as paper birch and red cedar, on the left.


Factors controlling the pattern and dynamics of the landscape included:

• Natural disturbance:

o hurricanes

o other wind storms

o ice storms

o pathogens (insects and disease)

o fires ignited by lightning strikes


• Variation in soils and water availability:

o sandy, droughty soils; moister till soils; shallow soils with bedrock outcrops

o flooding by beavers o annual fluctuations in the water table


Human activity:

o clearings for Indian villages and fields

o Indian burning of forests to improve hunting




My local history tlls me this:

I live in that "nook," where 21 years ago, around this time of year, I read the following page in a local history for the first time:

It took twenty minutes to walk to where the graves, this stone heap or rock pile just one of many, had once been, sometime around 1840. Some boulders there intrigued me and I've watched the sun set over certain ones on the Equinox many times, but over the years come to no longer see the Stones as a Calendar, but as a way to center yourself in the Universe. I started following a stone row at the north west point of the Burial Grounds not long after that and I'm still following them. I see them not as stone walls from the last 350 years but as older constructions made over thousands of years of Indian management, not by a simple slash and burn, but as something into which was woven a Sacred and a Ceremonial aspect.


Under the barb wire, sometimes there's the stones of a low fire break, that turn out to be shaped like petroform turtles, possibly other animals as well, small circular segments with a quartzite stone in it's center with a depression on top of it that might have held a clam shell filled with tobbacco. Brush away some debris at the boulder that ends a 200 foot long segment of mostly ten foot zigzag segments and there's a smiling face looking at you like a giant snake from widespread Indian Legend...

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