Rambles Through New England's Open Space
"I walk over a stone wall, without any opening; but, several rocks have been knocked down over time. White baneberry, hog peanut and plantain grow here along with more barberry. I see a big, old stump, lying across the path; the wood has been smoothed away where countless hiking shoes have crossed over it. How many pairs of shoes? I wish I knew when this tree fell to know the year when the first pair of shoes crossed it. Helleborine is nestled against the base of this prostrate tree just to the left of the path…
"There’s a fairly open area to my left with interesting rock formations, including a three-foot diameter bowl made from rocks, and hundreds of other loose rocks strewn about. The wonderful blog, http://rockpiles.blogspot.com/, focuses on these unusual rock formations. I plan to email photos to this blog for any insight the blogger might have. This sort of human activity often presents a fun mystery about a property’s previous land use. The barbed wire I saw earlier has already heightened my interest in trying to better understand what went on here over the past hundred years at least. Are these rock formations a piece of the same puzzle?"
"Ahead of me, a stone wall runs down the hill while another runs perpendicular to it, into the same woods into which the ovenbird flew. The path makes a sharp right-hand turn away from the descending stone wall. I follow the path and see a downy woodpecker fly to an old birch tree with fungus covering the trunk. While looking upward, I notice some large chestnut oak trees. It’s interesting that late in the 1800s, chestnut oak was listed as growing in nearby Amherst. But, I’ve never found it growing there. It grows here, and I’ve seen it on Beaver Brook property north of Route 130, along Old City Trail near Otter Pond; and I’ve found it in Bedford, on the opposite side of Amherst. Perhaps the reports were wrong, or perhaps they didn’t realize they were in Hollis when they found these oaks. Rutherford Platt in American Trees (1952) comments that chestnut oak “has the largest acorn known on oaks – 1½ inches or even 2 inches. This is the acorn to roast and eat. It’s the sweetest of all the northern oaks.” That this tree grows here, then, is good news for those who still relish wild nuts and who frequent this place..."
Stone wall as Stone Serpents