Thursday, November 21, 2013


Grey Fox Trail Stone Rows (2013)

Leaves fall from the trees and a Wonderland appears
You can see the long distance stretch of rows of stone
Snake through the wounded forests of this part of Turtle Island
And I wonder, “What was gathered there?”
And I wonder, “What song was sung in Thanksgiving?”
And I wonder, “Who lit the sacred fire
That sent prayers to the Creator and the Spirit of the Deer
Gathered in that Sacred Circle of that Sacred Fire?”
Nonnewaug Deer Tobacco Sacrifice Stone (1996)

      I am reading a work called Tending the Wild by M. Kat Anderson that describes the wonderland that was California – as an anciently created and well tended Cultural Landscape, a picture of sustainable horticulture that goes beyond the simple notion of “hunter/gatherers,” beyond the simple notion of “slash and burn.” There’s so many more ethnologies recorded out there, out west, where that European Contact was delayed or less intense for a time than around here, where the burning wasn’t outlawed until the 20th Century, where people remember details of the methods and reasons that burning was considered part of Caring for the Land.
      There’s so many more survivors as well, fighting for Federal and even State Recognition, fighting to protect those Sacred Places, to resume and sometimes continue to celebrate ceremonies thousands of years old perhaps.

Alyssa Alexandria (2013)
Ron Smith Photo

       I’m only halfway through but so far there is no mention of stone rows, but I’ve seen my friend Alyssa’s photos – and Ron Smith’s as well – of Northern California’s ancient pre-contact stone rows that are very similar to those here in what’s now referred to as New England, so I am beginning to wonder (not for the first time), “What was inside those spaces between the stone rows?” – on both the Wonder Land here as well as there.

      And I guess I already know some of the answers around here:

      There were strawberries and raspberries that thrived after a burn. There were fields and fields of low bush blueberries, burned over every four years. There were wild plum groves and hazelnut groves and all those useful shrubs in all the places they prosper naturally, helped along by another burn, on another schedule. There were great groves of great Oaks and chestnuts –and all those other trees called the Mast Forest. And there were great groves of pines, also tended with fire (or by protection from burning or perhaps just on a different schedule - I don’t really know, but I wonder).
Remnant Lowbush Blueberries along Remnant Zigzag Stone Row (2006)

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