Friday, September 05, 2008

My Burning Question Re: "walls"

This started as a comment to "Rock piles under the power way to grander things under the trees," but as the lights on my cable modem began blink off and on and off again, the comment dissappeared.
So I thought, "Why not post my "Burning" question (again)?"
And the question is: "How might the stone rows relate to the well documented schedule of burning that created the Native American Landscape?"

At an post a couple of years ago, I sort of describe my involement in puzzling about atypical stone rows (, and qoute Cronan's statement that "What most impressed English visitors was the Indians' burning of extensive sections of the surrounding forest once or twice a year. 'The Salvages,' wrote Thomas Morton, 'are accustomed to set fire of the Country in all places where they come, and to burne it twize a yeare, viz: at the Spring, and the fall of the leafe.'"
Another here: , and here too, with probably the best photo I ever took of a zigzag stone row remnant with possible survivor plants that I know continue to be burned on a four year cycle in Maine: .

Here's one online article new to me (that I found the image above) at:

Beat Poet Gary Snyder wrote this poem you can find at:

and I encourage the people who read Rock Piles to think of how we are frustrated by the rock piles and remnants of stone rows that escaped destruction and pillage being covered by poison ivy, bittersweet and greenbriar, how we wait the for the leaves to fall to see things more clearly, and stretch our collective imaginations to envision that Cultural Landscape kept clear by controlled fires.

And think about this too, as you brush away the humus created by worms:

"America, Found and Lost"
Much of what we learned in grade school about the New World encountered by the colonists at Jamestown is wrong. Four hundred years later, historians are piecing together the real story.
By Charles C. Mann
Courtesy Trustees of the British Museum
"It is just possible that John Rolfe was responsible for the worms—specifically the common night crawler and the red marsh worm, creatures that did not exist in the Americas before Columbus. Rolfe was a colonist in Jamestown, Virginia, the first successful English colony in North America. Most people know him today, if they know him at all, as the man who married Pocahontas. A few history buffs understand that Rolfe was one of the primary forces behind Jamestown's eventual success. The worms hint at a third, still more important role: Rolfe inadvertently helped unleash a convulsive and permanent change in the American landscape..."
From Jamestown - National Geographic Magazine


pwax said...

I sometimes wonder how the walls would have been used in fire control. I do not know enough about fire management.

Tim MacSweeney said...

I think of them as firebreaks, allowing specific sections to be burned while others around them - outside that boundary- wouldn't be burned. Think of that Mound Swamp we visited, protected yet also able to be burned over every so often. And ground fires, not crownfires as we see in CA etc.
More later, as I think about a good way to express it...

pwax said...

I am asking: how does a wall work as a firebreak?

Tim MacSweeney said...

I went back and added some tags to older posts, "firebreaks" one of them.
And it still doesn't call up the right stuff.The origin goes back to Hearth Stones, I'm guessing. This post has some ideas about it:
A stone row is pretty fire proof: you can selectivly burn the field you want to plant in, but not the wigwam frames or your firewood supply around it. You can burn over the wild plums but not your drying racks near the fishweir...