Thursday, May 31, 2012

Shooting, NOT Looting!


Dad likes to talk

about islands–

how they sink

how they rise

How some are bred

by volcanoes

and others built from coral bones
-by Marilyn Singer
I started my rock collection years ago as a child growing up in the Eastern Upper Peninsula. It is not your everyday "rocks from the side of the road" collection, but an honest-to-goodness collection of rocks, minerals and fossils that I have scoured the woods and shorelines for, scavenged from rock piles formed by the building of this road or that, or had presented to me by family and friends from faraway places. My fascination for all things geological eventually led to a Major in Geology during the acquisition of my first BA.
Geologically part of the Niagara Escarpment - Drummond is an island *built from coral bones*. The Island offers a rock nut like me more to explore  -  and discover!  Among my favorite hunting sites are the Fossil Ledges. 

These days I don't collect every fossil specimen I uncover. To preserve this wonderful natural scene for my grandchildren and others to enjoy long after I am gone, I take mostly pictures, not souvenirs. For while there are hundreds and thousands of fabulous fossils to be found - these wonders of nature took millions of years to form and it will take another million years for the next batch to go through the same metamorphosis from plant or animal to rock. 
Amazingly enough, I have discovered that *shooting, not looting* has not in the least dampened my enthusiasm or passion for rock hounding. 

So next time you are out-and-about on Drummond look down - you never know the treasures you’ll find!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bringing Back the "Memorial* in Memorial Day

 "They fell, but o'er their glorious grave
Floats free the banner of the cause they died to save".

~Francis Marion Crawford

The "Memorial" in Memorial Day has been ignored by too many of us who are beneficiaries of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Often we do not observe the day as it should be, a day where we actively remember our ancestors, our family members, our loved ones, our neighbors, and our friends who have given the ultimate sacrifice. 

The following is a list of ways to celebrate Memorial Day - to preserve the true meaning of the day and remember our fallen soldiers: 

By visiting cemeteries and placing flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes. 

By flying the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon.

 By visiting memorials.

By flying the 'POW/MIA Flag' as well (Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act). 

By participating in a "National Moment of Remembrance": at 3 p.m. to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day, and for Taps to be played. 

By renewing a pledge to aid the widows, widowers, and orphans of our fallen veterans, and to aid the disabled veterans.

Let us take a few moments this Memorial Day to reflect on the meaning of the day, to observe the day and be mindful of the sacrifices of others before we go and enjoy the freedoms they bought for us.

 "...gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime....let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude,--the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan." --General John Logan, General Order No. 11, 5 May 1868

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Bent Trees of Glen Cove . . .

We shall not cease from exploration,

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

- T.S. Eliot
 What began as a simple question posted on Facebook has somehow morphed into a passionate search for answers, plenty of *OMG* moments, and the beginning of a new quest.

"Does anyone know the true history of the "bent trees" on the way to Glen Cove?"

It was Coni Craig's simple question that ultimately lead me to several research projects involved with the identification of "Trail Trees" throughout the United States.

While most participating in these projects presume that the Trail Trees were made and used by the Native Americans, that doesn't seem to be the question that the skeptics raise. Their question is more like "What makes you think they're man-made? We think they're just a variant of nature."

So what does make the researchers think these trees were shaped by human beings rather than Mother Nature?

Intuition: Almost everyone involved in these projects are people who came upon the trees in their wanderings in the woods and thought they were very "different." They intuitively concluded that they were man-made. A few of the researchers are serious "tree watchers." They concluded the trees just don't "look natural."
Uniformity: All were surprised at how similar the examples are, despite being found in different locations.

Morphology: The trees have a number of characteristic features that suggest man-made "wounds." The bumps, particularly the ones that seem to be aligned, the characteristic "mouths" or "noses," and some have those striking horizontal indentations that look like "tie-downs" were used to shape the trees.

Shape: The trees typically have a right angle bend in the trunk [with no evidence of a break to explain it] - something just not seen in other trees.
Density: The trees are often found in relatively close proximity with one another, in clumps in a few places, or in lines in others.

Proximity: The trees are all found in areas known to be inhabited by earlier cultures of people. In the places where they've been mapped like North Georgia, they seem to connect known settlements or in Arkansas where they cluster in the Cherokee Lands.

Age: While the scientific dating of these trees has been spotty, they are usually quite old, much older than they look.

So how do the *bent trees* of Drummond Island figure into all of this?

One of my passions is preserving the rich historical tapestry of the Upper Peninsula. Coni Craig shares that same passion. So together we set out to locate, map and submit the trees to the geographic database to see if they do mark routes that are clear, and correlate their distribution with earlier settlements.

What we found is that there IS a pattern - a logic - to their positions. That they most definitely are *Witness Trees*. But not necessarily Native American Witness Trees.  Between 1944 and 1949 three separate planting of ruffled grouse were made on the Island by the Conservation Department. Given the age of the Bent Trees in this area we believe that some, if not all, of the Bent Trees of Glen Cove were made in an attempt by the Conservation Department to mark the original grouse grounds.

Regardless of their origin, the tress are still fascinating and following their trail makes for a great day long hike!

If, like me, you are interested in learning more about *Trail Trees* and/or documenting the *Bent Trees* of Drummond Island - here are a few resources to check out:

Go where there is no path and leave a trail.
 ~Ralph Waldo Emerson