Thursday, January 10, 2008

Changing Landscape of Droop Mountain

Our maple tree then

I think the landscapes of our childhood are often the source of our idea of how the world "ought to look." Pocahontas County old-timers like Andrew Price wished for the virgin forest the railroad and loggers hauled away in the 1910's and 1920's. Subsequently, Pocahontas County has become nostalgic about the logging and railroad boom days, and preserved some bits of them in places like Cass Scenic Railroad State Park. (I grew up on the Burlington Northern line, Willa Cather country, and the sound of the Cass steam engines give me chills, too.)

At one time, Droop Mountain was mostly farmland, and those are the vistas many people my age long to see again. I got this photograph from my neighbor, who grew up in the house I live in now. It was taken at the corner of our house, perhaps at this time of year. Fashion history gives us a vague idea of the picture's age in the middle of the twentieth century. I believe this is the same sugar maple you see in the picture below.

Our maple tree now

This photograph was taken yesterday from approximately the same angle, although my picture catches the corner of the house, the deck we built, and the pear tree which has sprung up and grown old since the first photo. The big sugar maple took root in an old fence row down the hill. The pasture has grown up considerably, although the new trees are still rather scrubby. Is it the hopeful return of the Eastern deciduous forest, or is it the sad demise of a family farm? For the maple tree, it's plenty of sunshine and significant reproductive success.

1 comment:

OfTroy said...

I used to visit northern NH every year--and much of it was hard wood forest (some "terminal" hemlock forest) --old relatives lamented the landscape.. they too, remembered when the now wooded fields were once pasture (and filled with dairy cattle) --The bottom land was still farmed (a bit) but Coos County (NH) has one of the shorted growing seasons of continental US, and subsistence farming is a thing of the past.

It is interesting how are 'views' of what is right and natural are effected by when we first encounter a landscape.

To me, flushing meadow park is a total UN-Natural landscape (I first visited the park when it was home to the 1963 world fair) --to F Scott Fitzgerald, it was the 'field of ashes' (in The Great Gadsby) now there are signs around the park advocating "forever natual" --they make me laugh!

the natural brackish marsh is long gone, buried under tons of coal ashes (from when this place was a dump for for NYC's coal ashes), then paved over (for the worlds fair!) and now, landscaped into paved paths, and meadows that are becoming scrub forests in places!

the slow natural movement of the water is now controlled by pumps--not the tides.