Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Far Ravine

by Andy

I am curious about the far ravine.

The far ravine is a little visited place nowadays, only when a person is ready for a long hike. We go on the perimeter hike and when we get to the far ravine, we know that we are halfway around the edge of the Land School. By the time we get there on a hike, we often have to keep going to get to the next thing. No time to explore. It is a pity.

Last week with Class E, I took a group to the far ravine for the sole purpose of exploring. As I enter the forest, I am struck by how different the forest floor is compared to the woods behind the farmstead. There are flowers there in abundance that are rare in the close woods. Also, there are a number of large sugar maples there, unlike the predominant oaks around the farmhouse. By far my favorite part of the area is creek bed. The stream only flows when there is snow melt or a heavy rain, so all summer long the washed rocks are there for the picking. The variety and sizes of rocks in the creek bed would tell a story to someone who knew how to read them. There are massive slabs of some sort of blue rock. There are many small rocks of different types, deposited by size in different places. These include occasional agates, but also quartzes, granites and jaspers, and many other types.

As I was sifting through, looking for agates, I found a piece of an old teacup and I was reminded that at one point in the history of this land it wasn't the far ravine at all, rather more like the near ravine. At one point, there was a homestead just up the hill, in the open area just east of the creek bed. There are old apple trees in the clearing, and the remains of a model T in the woods. We have yet to find any well or foundation, but our neighbor tells the story of how they dragged the old house across the field to where our house is now. They lived in that house while they built the barn and then the house. They were the Pickards, for whom our road was named (before they took all the old names away and replaced them with numbers). At one time what we know as the Land School property was two 80 acre parcels and the Pickards combined them and abandoned the old homestead. The dry creek bed yielded other refuse that day, mostly old looking pieces of glass, brown, blue and clear. But the only thing I took home was the porcelain shard and a few agates.  

It is curious how completely the existence of a settlement in that area has been obscured by the vegetation and decay. Without the story, we would be clueless. Likewise, although we have found some atl atl points and arrowheads, we only have conjectures of the 10,000 years (or more) of human habitation before European settlers arrived. At the same time, the geologic history is plain as day in the creek bed; its hundreds of thousands of years of history are still in charge of the narrative in that place.

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