Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Lost Pond

I don't know why this little body of water bears the name that it does. It's true that it's a bit isolated, though there's a well-maintained trail that runs along it. Perhaps it wasn't so much misplaced as simply forgotten. The woods around it, criss-crossed with stone walls, were once pasture-land, but that was long ago. It has outlived its original purpose, but on the day I visited, with the trees still bare and the ground covered with dry leaves, it provided a stopping-place for a pair of mallards. There were sounds of woodpeckers here and there, and the rest was mostly silence.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Late winter


Of late I've been taking weekend walks in a nearby nature preserve. The most surprising thing about these walks may be the utter stillness of the woods. When one first sets out the traffic noise from a nearby interstate highway is inescapable, but once over the first ridge there is hardly a sound: no squirrels, few birds (and only a handful of other hikers). Though the ground is covered with acorns in extraordinary profusion there is far less evident wildlife here than along the margins of town.

In addition to the oaks, the most evident trees are beeches, black birches, a few hickories, and tulip-trees.

Almost none of this land is old-growth forest. Except in the steepest or marshiest sections there are stone walls in sight almost everywhere, and in one spot, a spillway (which may be more recent; I'm not sure). Farming has moved elsewhere, to less stony ground.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Of Cabbages and Kings

Edward Gibbon on how the Roman emperor Diocletian, after abdicating the throne of his own free will, responded when his former co-emperor implored him to resume the purple:
He rejected the temptation with a smile of pity, calmly observing that, if he could show Maximian the cabbages which he had planted with his own hands at Salona, he should no longer be urged to relinquish the enjoyment of happiness for the pursuit of power.