Sunday, February 10, 2019

Woodland Habits


Weather: The snow is gone from most places, but cold mornings returned on Friday. The ground still gets a little soft in the afternoon, but it refreezes at night. When I tried to dig someplace I could only penetrate half an inch.

Last useful snow: 1/22. Week’s low: 8 degrees F. Week’s high: 68 degrees F in the shade.

What’s still green: Leaves on juniper and other evergreens, blue flax, sweet peas, coral bells, pink evening primroses, vinca; new growth on alfilerillo and a snapdragon; cheat grass up

What’s gray, gray-green, or blue green: Four-winged saltbush, winterfat, snow-in-summer leaves

What’s red or purple: Stems on sandbar willow and bing cherries, new wood on peaches and apples, leaves on a few golden spur columbines and purple asters

What’s yellow: Stems on weeping willows

Animal sightings: Saw footprints of the cat in soft mud before the cold returned. It sank a good quarter inch.


Weekly update: People who comment on the Peshtigo fire often dismiss it as caused by human carelessness. That judgement reflects the indoctrination we got as children from Smokey the Bear. It doesn’t comprehend the realities of living with wood as a fuel and gale force winds.

When I went to summer camp in Barry County, Michigan, in the 1950s we had few fires, and everything we did was hedged with restrictions. Once a week we broke into groups of 20 or 30 and went to designated areas to cook our dinners.

The cook areas were rimmed with rocks, and everything was cleared around the areas. We had to gather dead wood from the area for cooking. By the end of the summer, when five groups had scrounged for dead wood every Wednesday for eight weeks, there wasn’t much left.


We also had a ceremonial fire once a week that was even smaller. A teepee of kindling was built inside a small square of logs set on one another like a log cabin. In the early years it was set on the sandy beach. In later years it was moved to the pine area where a square brick fireplace a few feet high had been built. It also was used for cook fires by groups coming from town for the overnights required by the Camp Fire Girls’ program.

We never had simple camp fires when we would sit around and sing, like all the films show. I remember talking to someone who had gone to a day camp in New Jersey where they had huge bon fires. I assume the camp bought the wood.

We didn’t have that luxury. At the camp I attended sponsored by the Camp Fire Girls, our leaders were more parsimonious. The director had lived through the depression and World War II shortages. The only reason we had cook outs was the cooks were given one day off each week, and on Wednesday we had to fend for ourselves: cold cereal for breakfast, left overs for lunch, the cook outs for supper.

Every other camp I attended in the area had the same rules about fires: rim it with stones and gather dead wood from the ground. I remember a woman at the local day camp being especially adamant about fire, because the peat in swamps in an area north of town would burn for weeks if it got ignited. [1]

The Barry County camp was built on hills around a lake. It wasn’t good farm land, and so wasn’t cleared until 1901 when the Grand Rapids Bookcase Company began producing mission style furniture in the county seat of Hastings.

The land probably had only just begun to recover when it was sold to the camp in the 1930s. By the time I was there the trees were medium size hardwoods on the hills, and pines in the distance. The only tree I actually remember by species was a sassafras by the side entrance to the main lodge.


The area in front of the lodge was cleared of brush and small trees because that was where we gathered before meals. The area on the opposite side included the cemented area outside the kitchen where food deliveries were made. The rest of the land was covered with leaves. Dense shade suppressed the growth of young trees or wild plants. Flowers only were found in openings.

It’s one of the ironies of life that fire is what destroyed the camp. Lightening struck the main lodge in the spring of 1974. It must have been during a rain storm, and I think it probably burned itself out before any fire fighters arrived.

I only saw the results in August, after the debris had been cleared. Only the lodge burned. The surrounding trees were singed, but all that clearing, those habits of living in the woods, had saved them.


The camp was abandoned, and reverted again to wood lot. When a group was trying to sell it as a recreation property in 2011 they posted pictures that showed it had returned to state I knew in the 1950s.

Notes on photographs:
1. The lake with new trees growing where the beach used to be, 14 March 2011.
2. Clearing in pine woods area with Queen Anne’s lace blooming, 14 March 2011.

3. Cook fire at my local day camp, 1956. We did not clear the area around the stones as we ought to have done.

4. Camp lodge, postcard from the early 1950s.

5. Remains of the camp lodge after a spring fire, August 1974.

6. The woods as I remember them outside a sleeping cabin, 14 March 2011.

End notes:
1. Wolcott Bigelow Williams. Past and Present of Eaton County, Michigan. Lansing: Michigan Historical Pub. Assoc, 1906?. He wrote "In a very hot summer the peat became so dry in the tamarack swamps that it burned readily several inches deep, exposing the roots of the trees so that they fell over, and in the next hot summer the fire consumed them. The fire would smoulder in those peat beds for several weeks, and through several hard rains. Thus the tamarack swamps were transformed into wet prairies." (page 7)

Sunday, February 03, 2019

When Lumberman Ruled


Weather: Our weather has returned to its normal pattern. It may get cold in the morning, and it did during the descent of the polar vortex in the east, but the afternoons are warm. The thaw is afoot - and underfoot. The ground gives when one walks on it, the melting snow and ice puddle on half-melted ground that can absorb no more.

Last useful snow: 1/22. Week’s low: 12 degrees F. Week’s high: 60 degrees F in the shade. Snow on the ground since 12/26 remains in a few places.

What’s still green: Leaves on juniper and other evergreens, blue flax, sweet peas, coral bells, pink evening primroses, vinca; new growth on alfilerillo and a snapdragon. Many arborvitae have turned brown.

What’s gray, gray-green, or blue green: Four-winged saltbush, winterfat, snow-in-summer leaves

What’s red or purple: Stems on sandbar willow and bing cherries, new wood on peaches and apples, leaves on a few golden spur columbines and purple asters

What’s yellow: Stems on weeping willows

Animal sightings: Still little evidence animals are entering the yard


Weekly update: Lumbermen always have an answer for the problem with forest fires: let them cut and thin. People shudder because they remember the last time they were given a free hand. While they acknowledge large corporations maintain sustainable forest programs, they also know those aren’t the companies who win contracts awarded to lowest bidders.

Roy Dodge published photographs of Michigan Ghost Towns in 1970. [1] Time and again the captions referred to towns, like Averill in 1877 [2] and Nahma in 1921, [3] that were destroyed by fires. He also had pictures of fires in process, including Shelldrake in 1910 [4] and Metz in 1908. [5] The latter was so severe "the red-hot rails of the tracks melted." [6]

His three volumes documented the ways dried wood was everywhere. Near Alger, a photograph showed the Rifle River filled with cut logs floating down to Bay City and Saginaw. Above the river, trains crossed on wooden trestles. [7]

When the logs arrived at a saw mill they accumulated in the area. After they were cut, the wood or finished products were stacked in yards waiting for ships to haul them away. [8] In the Great Lakes area, work occurred in winter or all year, depending on location, but shipping was limited by ice in winter.

Loggers left debris, the twigs and branches that weren’t usable, along with the cut underbrush in piles where they may have burned them or let them dry. Railroads were essential to opening woodlands and temporary crews left piles of waste that had been cut to lay tracks. The slash later could be ignited by anything, especially sparks if it were near tracks. [9]

Everywhere there was sawdust: in the woods where trees were cut and in the saw mills and finishing plants. It, too, was left in the woods where it could ignite. In more industrial areas, it might be burned. Dodge showed a sawdust burner on the Sturgeon River that resembled a tall farm silo. [10]

Loggers and pioneer farmers living near forests grew accustomed to fire. In Peshtigo, Wisconsin, in the fall of 1871 fires in the west had been continuous. The summer had been unusually dry and, in the fall, farmers burned their stubble and burned woodlands to open new fields.

Then the winds started. Fires blew toward the city. The local employer, who made wooden products like barrels from wood that was too small for construction, [11] sent his men out to clear anything combustible and stockpiled water in barrels around the town. [12]

These winds weren’t the ordinary ones of fall, but part of a great cyclonic storm system that reached from Arizona to Michigan’s upper peninsula. [13] As the winds intensified, the small fires merged. In the woods, ground fires became crown fires. Chicago was in its path, as were parts of western Michigan and the Thumb in the east. Peshtigo was destroyed in hours. [14]

William Ogden, who owned the Peshtigo factory, was one of the more responsible lumbermen. But, when wind and drought combine human efforts only magnify their destructive force. Half the population of Peshtigo died that night, [15] and many more deaths are suspected on farmsteads where nothing remained but ashes. [16]


Notes on photographs: All taken 2 February 2019.
1. Melting snow in path on west side of house.
2. Peach (Prunus persica) buds at northern end of path where snow disappeared a while ago.
3. Revived vinca(Vinca minor)leaves under the peach.

End notes:
1. Roy L. Dodge. Michigan Ghost Towns. Sterling Heights, Michigan: Glendon Publishing, volume 1, 1970; volume 2, 1971; volume 3, 1973. This is still available on Amazon.

2. Dodge. 2:67.
3. Dodge. 3:88.
4. Dodge. 3:62.
5. Dodge. 2:164.
6. Dodge. 2:163.
7. Dodge. 1:33.
8. Dodge. 2:170.
9. Wikipedia. "Great Michigan Fire."
10. Dodge. 3:87.

11. William Converse Haygood. Notes to Peter Pernin. "The Great Peshtigo Fire: An Eyewitness Account." Wisconsin Magazine of History 54:246–272:1971. 246.

12. Pernin. 251.

13. Eric R. Miller reconstructed the storm system from "observations made by the observers of the Signal Service, U. S. Army, at 5:35 P.M. Central Standard time, October 8, 1871." His map has been reprinted many times, including in Pernin, 100.

14. Joseph Schafer. "Great Fires of Seventy-one." Wisconsin Magazine of History 11:96–106:1927. 96–97. Miller’s map is on page 100.

15. Wikipedia gives the official death toll as around 1,500 in "Peshtigo Fire."
16. Haygood. 271.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Saint Simons Island Fires


Weather: We got snow on Tuesday, and, since the Earth as turned since December, the afternoon was warmer and it disappeared.

There’s still snow in the Jémez and on the northwestern corner of the Black Mesa that I can see. In my yard it remains in shadows of buildings, fences, and trees, especially on the north and western sides.

Last useful snow: 1/22. Week’s low: 16 degrees F. Week’s high: 57 degrees F in the shade. Snow on the ground since 12/26.

What’s still green: Leaves on juniper, arborvitae, and other evergreens, blue flax, sweet peas, coral bells, pink evening primroses, vinca; new growth on alfilerillo and a snapdragon.

What’s gray, gray-green, or blue green: Four-winged saltbush, winterfat, snow-in-summer leaves

What’s red or purple: Stems on sandbar willow and bing cherries, new wood on peaches and apples, leaves on a few golden spur columbines and purple asters

What’s yellow: Stems on weeping willows

Animal sightings: Still little evidence animals are entering the yard

Tasks: On Friday I saw someone on a low ladder using long-handled loppers to prune his apples. His ground must be frozen harder than mine. It gave when I walked on the gravel in the drive Saturday.

The same day I saw some men loading a pick-up bed with wood when I was stopped at a light in town. They must have cut down a sapling that was in the way. They had cut the wood to length, but it wasn’t more than a few inches in diameter. They also were picking up all the sticks from the ground. Those were the actions of people who are using wood to keep warm.


Weekly update: Cecil Frost noted foresters, at least in the south, were slow to recognize lightening could cause woodland fires. They simply assumed fires were "carelessly set to improve grazing, to clear land, and to protect woods where turpentine is being gathered." [1]

Fanny Kemble made the same assumption in 1839 when the English actress was spending a year on her husband’s plantation on Saint Simons Island off the coast of Georgia. Toward the end of March she noticed fires burning in a number of places on the island and concluded:

"The ‘field-hands’ make fires to cook their midday food wherever they happen to be working,

and sometimes through their careless neglect, but sometimes, too, undoubtedly on purpose, the woods are set fire to by these means. One benefit they consider that they derive from the process is the destruction of the dreaded rattlesnakes that infest the woodland all over the island." [2]

Frost noted people who actually lived in the woods knew better. He mentioned one land owner in coastal Onslow County, North Carolina, who provided free log cabins near his turpentine plantation to "poor white families, whose duties included fighting summer lightning fires." By putting them in harm’s way, he provided an incentive for them to extinguish the fires and ring bells for help if the flames grew more serious. [3]

As we all have learned, there is a difference between fires set by lightening and those caused by humans. Lightening usually occurs in the rainy season when the duff already may be wet. If it isn’t raining when the fire starts, it probably will be within a few days. These fires burn comparatively few acres, and go out by themselves.

Fires caused by humans are worse because they occur outside the monsoon season when nature has no chance to act, and they often occur in areas made more flammable by humans like the ones in Onslow County who were living near concentrations of pine resins. The Dome Fire of 1996 was caused by German campers who thought urinating on a cook fire was enough, the Cerro Grande was set by the Forest Service as a controlled burn in an area that needed clearing in 2000, and the 2011 Las Conchas, like this summer’s fire in Paradise, California, was caused by a high-voltage power line destroyed by high winds.

Susan Bratton thought humans had contributed to the fire problems on Saint Simons in 1839, not by their carelessness, but by unwittingly disrupting the natural pattern of woodland succession. When Englishmen first saw the island, it was dominated by "evergreen oak-mixed hardwood forests." [4] Men began cutting the live oak for building frigates in the 1790s, and continued "until the resource was depleted." [5]

By the Civil War, most of the upland parts of the island that weren’t planted with cotton had been depleted and left fallow. Instead of the original vegetation, pines with differing nutrition demands had taken over. [6] As Bratton observed, Kemble only mentioned pine woods in 1839. She added:

"Live oak forests do not carry fire well, even under exceptionally dry conditions. During a large fire on Cumberland Island, during July and August, 1981, the fire moved quickly through pine forests and oak scrub, but dropped into the understory and then went out when it entered mature evergreen oak stands." [7]

Not surprisingly, the winter of 1838–1839, when Kemble was on Saint Simons, the state was beginning what became an extreme drought when the rains didn’t appear until July 1839 in upland Georgia. [8] This would have made it analogous to the Cerro Grande fire when routine winter burning to open new fields could have gotten out of hand because of unanticipated variations in the weather. After all, they worried more about too much water and hurricanes than too little.


Notes on photographs: Taken 16 January 2019.
1. Two types of yuccas that are still green and uneaten by the ground squirrel. Purchased as Yucca Baccata (broader leaves) and Yucca Glauca (narrow leaves); who knows what they really were.

2. The snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) leaves stayed viable until the snow covered them. The stems remained green, and now new growth has emerged at the base of one.

3. Alfilerillo (Erodium circutarium) plants were still viable until December. When the snow cleared, the leaves had turned a dull red. They’ve now begun to put out new growth.

End notes:
1. T. H. Sherrard. A Working Plan for Forest Lands in Hampton and Beaufort Counties, South Carolina. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1903. Quoted by Cecil C. Frost. "Four Centuries of Changing Landscape Patterns in the Longleaf Pine Ecosystem." 17–43 in The Longleaf Pine Ecosystem: Ecology, Restoration and Management. Edited by Sharon M. Hermann. Tallahassee: Tall Timbers Research Station, 1993.

2. Frances Anne Kemble. Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838–1839. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1863. 242–243.

3. T. Gamble. Naval Stores: History, Production, Distribution and Consumption. Savannah: Review Publishing and Printing Company, 1921. Cited by Frost. 35.

4. Susan P. Bratton. "The Vegetation History of Fort Frederica, Saint Simons Island, Georgia." Castanea 50:133–145:1985. 133.

5. V. S. Wood. Live Oaks: Southern Timber for Tall Ships. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1981. Cited by Bratton. 139.

6. W. M. Brewer. "Some Effects of the Plantation System on the Ante-Bellum South." The Georgia Historical Quarterly 11:250–273:1927. Cited by Bratton. 139.

7. Bratton. 143.

8. Georgia. Department of Agriculture. "Climate." 35–72 in The Commonwealth of Georgia. Atlanta: Jas. P. Harrison and Company, 1885. 58.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Firewood


Weather: Last Sunday we had snow at the exact temperature where water freezes. It was nearly invisible, but had the cadence of snow. When it fell on bared land it disappeared. When it landed on snow, it blended in. Yesterday it was just enough warmer that it was obviously rain, even if it turned into flakes at times.

When I planted trees and shrubs around the house I did so to create sun screens for other, more tender plants. I didn’t realize I was also creating winter protection. The leaves keep roots and crowns protected as the snow disappears. Even the wild grasses have a similar strategy: the dead blades protect a few greens ones in the center that keep the roots nourished in the cold.

Last useful rain: 1/28. Week’s low: 27 degrees F. Week’s high: 54 degrees F in the shade. Snow on the ground since 12/26.

What’s still green: Leaves on juniper, arborvitae, and other evergreens, blue flax, sweet peas, coral bells, snow-in-summer, pink evening primroses, vinca; everything else is under snow.

What’s gray, gray-green, or blue green: Four-winged saltbush, winterfat, snow-in-summer leaves

What’s red: Stems on sandbar willow and bing cherries, new wood on peaches and apples

What’s yellow: Stems on weeping willows

Animal sightings: Breaks in snow that probably came from rabbit


Weekly update: When the animals disappeared from the forests, they were replaced by humans who burned wood to cook and stay warm. Before anyone could buy a chain saw, that meant scouring the woods for dead trees and ignitable underbrush. Everything had to be cut to size by an axe.

That probably reduced the fuel load in nearby forests enough to keep wild fires under control in most seasons.

Fewer people today rely on wood alone. When I moved here, we only had propane for heat. Three of my neighbors used wood stoves for heat. When we got natural gas, they continued to use their stoves. My one neighbor was out many mornings with an axe splitting the cut-to-length logs he had delivered.

Time passes, and people get older. One man died and the descendants who live in his house use only the natural gas. The wife of the second neighbor died, and I think his current one is from town. They no longer used wood, but gas.

The third neighbor now has his wood delivered already split. Since his wife retired, I think they use it as a supplement rather than a primary source. People need more heat when they are home all day, which means more ashes to remove.

As wood turned from a necessity to a life-style, people became fussier. They weren’t willing to accept any type of wood, and expected it to be split into evenly sized pieces. That meant the underbrush no longer was being harvested.

Most years men who had access to wood, filled their pickup beds and parked in local parking lots along the main road from Santa Fé to Taos. I don’t know their sources. The national forests issue permits for fire wood with the proviso it not be sold. The Santa Fé office charges ten dollars for a green cord, and twenty for five cords of dead wood.

A couple years ago, the primary lot used by street vendors was taken over by a gas station, and the men moved to other locations. Friday I went looking to see where they were, and I couldn’t find any.

I thought they might have gone north toward the big boxes where I’d seen men selling potatoes and chicos in the past, but there were none. Much of that land is now for sale, and the owners may be discouraging the peddlers.

My one neighbor still gets his wood, but he probably uses the same source every year and has his telephone number.

The poor who rely on wood probably still scrounge where they can. The past few years the electric utility has been cutting trees that threatened its wires. I don’t what terms they offered for removing the wood, but in many places they simply left it on the ground.

One person in the village piled the wood along the road to create a barrier. When I drove by recently, all the wood had disappeared. I assume someone, somewhere is using it to keep warm.


Notes on photographs: Taken 19 January 2019.
1. The snow in the path on the west side of the house continued to turn into slick ice.

2. Globe willow leaves (Salix matsudana umbraculifera) captured by dead Mexican hat (Ratibida columnaris) stems.

3. A few green blades in a clump of needle grass (Stipa comata).

End notes: USDA, Forest Service, Santa Fé website.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Beaver and Deer


Weather: A white cover lingers, with an ice layer beneath, but the icicles have disappeared. The snow in the yard and prairie has retreated around clumps of needle grass and shrubs. Around my house, plants are still buried in snow on the north and west sides, but exposed in the cold, damp on the east and south.

Last useful snow: 1/1. Week’s low: 18 degrees F. Week’s high: 49 degrees F in the shade.

What’s still green: Leaves on juniper, arborvitae, and other evergreens, blue flax, sweet peas, coral bells, snow-in-summer, pink evening primroses, vinca; everything else is under snow.

What’s gray, gray-green, or blue green: Four-winged saltbush, snow-in-summer, winterfat

What’s red: Stems on sandbar willow and bing cherries, new wood on peaches and apples

What’s yellow: Stems on weeping willows

Animal sightings: Rabbit


Weekly update: Donald Trump recognized a problem when he saw it, and responded with his gut. He claimed one of the problems abetting the spread of forest fires was the accumulation of dead underbrush. His answer that they should be raked clean was based on a view that forests were like English deer parks that had broad expanses of green edged with trees. The difference between the wild and the domestic didn’t exist for the man raised in an urbanized area.

Actually more deer might be useful. In Michigan, where I grew up, the size of the white-tailed deer herd was a source of constant debate. When the state first was being settled, deer lived in the hardwoods of lower half of the peninsula. Elk and moose inhabited the northern pines where dense canopies suppressed the growth of competing plants.

Increased settlement eliminated the southern habitats while logging opened the north. Second growth forests had shrubs and grasses that deer could eat. These, of course, become the dead underbrush if they’re not eaten.

In the 1930s, the state began planting trees that encouraged the return of the deer herd. By the time I was a child, no tree in the upper peninsula that I saw had branches any lower than a deer could reach. I didn’t know pine tree branches could reach the ground until I saw some in Louisiana.

New Mexico has a different climate, and different ecology. Mule deer and elk are the prime game animals. However, like Michigan where white tails were hunted to near extinction by market hunters in the late nineteenth century, New Mexico has had it’s problems with the elimination of livestock in the forests.

The other animals that were hunted to death in the north were beaver and the other small fur-bearing mammals. Beavers lived on bark and the live part of tree trunks, the cambium. This of course killed trees, and limited the growth of new trees. In Michigan, that kept areas open for deer and other animals.

Fur trapping was less common in this part of the country than in the north, because the climate is not as cold and thus the fur didn’t grow as thick.

I don’t know much about game animals, but I suspect that some of the problems we attribute to forest fires aren’t so much the result of current practices, but the consequence of human actions taken a century or more ago.


Notes on photographs: All taken 12 January 2019.
1. Needle grass (Stipa comata) in the yard.
2. Vinca (Vinca minor) poking through the snow on the west side.
3. Snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum) in the scree bed on the east side.

End notes: "Deer Management History in Michigan." Michigan, Department of Natural Resources website.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Freshets and Floods


Weather: The snow lingers. In places, ice is forming underneath where the snow is melting during the day, then freezes before it is absorbed. Icicles hang from my steel roof and others that face east or northeast.

Last useful snow: 1/1. Week’s low: -2 degrees F. Week’s high: 38 degrees F in the shade.

What’s still green: Leaves on juniper, arborvitae, and other evergreens, blue flax, sweet peas; everything else is under snow.

What’s gray, gray-green, or blue green: Four-winged saltbush, winterfat

What’s red: Stems on sandbar willow and bing cherries, new wood on peaches and apples

What’s yellow: Stems on weeping willows

Animal sightings: One bird came out for seeds on a chrysanthemum, and the rabbit has left a daily trail.

Weekly update: Humans take credit or blame for some of their actions, but overlook others. Thus, some suspect global warming is causing more severe storms, and concede people building on barrier islands contributes to the problem. What they don’t recognize is they, like many of us, really do want to live near nature, either on a waterfront or near a forest. Unfortunately, while the population increases, the amount of land does not.

The causes of increased population pressure go back to the 1950s when people had more children than their parents had had during the Depression. At the same time, penicillin and other improvements in medical care meant more who were born survived, and those who did live lived longer. No one blames health care for overbuilding the sea islands, because no ones wants to return to earlier conditions.

Humans cannot help themselves from impacting the environment. In South Carolina, Samuel Dubose, Jr. noted the effects of agricultural successes on his life. His great-great-grandfather, Isaac DuBose, left Normandy after Louis XIV rescinded the act of tolerance for Huguenot Protestants. [1]

The French-speakers weren’t particularly welcomed by English colonists, and settled on land upriver from Charleston. [2] Once indigo was accepted as a commercial crop and subsidized by the British navy, DuBose remembered "one after another" of the Huguenot "planters moved" to Saint Stephen’s Parish "as opportunity offered for the purchase of land" and slaves. [3]

The bounty ended with the American Revolution, and eventually cotton replaced indigo as a cash crop. Soon, lands downriver were being ravaged by freshets, as floods were called. He wrote:

"The upper country being then but partially cleared and cultivated, the greater part of its surface was covered with leaves, the limbs and trunks of decaying trees, and various other impediments to the quick discharge of the rains which fall upon it, into the creeks and ravines leading into the river; consequently much of the water was absorbed by the earth or evaporated before it could be received into its channels, and even when there so many obstacles yet awaited its progress, that heavy contributions were still levied upon it. The river, too, had time to extend along its course the first influx of water before that from more remote tributary sources would reach it. Owing to these and other causes, the Santee was comparatively exempt from those freshets which have since blighted the prosperity of what was once a second Egypt." [4]

His own house was burned during the Civil War, [5] and his descendants moved to Charleston. [6] Cotton and rice plantations reverted to second growth forest that was purchased by wealthy northerners for hunting retreats in the early twentieth century. Thus, was formed the upper class taste for living in what had been wetlands.

Forested land away from the coast was deemed wasteland. Dubose’s acreage was flooded in the early 1940s by Lake Moultrie, [7] a reservoir created by the Santee Cooper Hydroelectric and Navigation Project to produce power for the area north of Charleston. [8]

Each step in the degradation of DuBose’s patrimony was independent and seen as progress at the time: the expansion of arable land, rural electrification. The result, more land was rendered useless, and the remaining land became more crowded. The damage from storms simply increased at each stage with increased density.

Notes on photographs: Taken 3 January 2019.

End notes:
1. "Isaac DuBose, I." Gini website. 23 May 2018.
2. Walter Edgar. South Carolina. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1998. 51-52.

3. Samuel Dubose. "Reminiscences of St. Stephen’s Parish, Craven County, and Notices of Her Old Homesteads." 35-85 in A Contribution to the History of the Huguenots of South Carolina. Edited by T. Gaillard Thomas. New York: The Knickerbocker Press, 1887. 40.

4. Samuel Dubose. 37-38.
5. "Harbin Plantation – Lake Moultrie – Berkeley County." South Carolina Plantations website.

6. Harlan Greene. "Charleston Childhood: The First Years of Dubose Heyward." The South Carolina Historical Magazine 83:154-167:1982.

7. SC Plantations.
8. Wikipedia. "Santee Cooper."

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Snow at Last


Weather: Snow, real snow, the kind that comes down and stays a few days. The last time that happened was January 2016. I’m sure the sky basins have better records for when they last had an adequate snow fall to sustain themselves without water filched from reservoirs converted by machines.

Last useful snow: 12/28. Week’s low: 14 degrees F. Week’s high: 54 degrees F in the shade.

What’s still green: Stems on roses; leaves on cliff roses, juniper, arborvitae, and other evergreens, yuccas, red hot pokers, sweet peas; most are covered in snow

What’s gray, gray-green, or blue green: Four-winged saltbush, fernbush, winterfat

What’s red: Stems on sandbar willow and bing cherries, new wood on peaches and apples

What’s yellow: Stems on weeping willows

Animal sightings: Rabbit came out yesterday morning, hopped across the yard and drive, then down the path beside the house to head out toward the prairie. It also came through this morning with a slightly different path.


Weekly update: Last week when I was driving through the village I noted some cottonwoods still had leaves on some lower branches that hung along side trunks. Gravity probably pulled the snow off those branches.

The trees that may have had greater problems with the snow that stuck on all horizontal surfaces are the trees of heaven that still had full canopies of seed pods.

The only shrub in my yard to have a problem is the Apache plume. Tiny branches crisscross one another to create a mesh that supported the snow. In addition, while many of the leaves had died, they hadn’t fallen. So, it’s under full mantle with a protected cave under it.

The plants that have the greatest challenge in my yard are the ones under the back porch drip line. Snow melts off the roof, and drops onto the rose and shrub branches below where it freezes. Fortunately, it’s only the stems directly in the fall line; the rest of the plants are safe from the freezing.

The indomitable sweet pea leaves have stayed green even when the rose the vines climbed was covered with snow, then ice.


Notes on photographs: Taken 30 December 2018.