Friday, October 06, 2006

Vacation Stones, Part 1: The Rental Property

The view a short walk away:

The mountains are the Catskills.

We stayed, as I said, in Ulster County, New York, part of the territory of the Munsee or Minsi Lenape, whose name famously means 'the place where the stones are gathered together.' We lived in this area for a few years about 15 years ago, and I know that stone walls abound there. The property around the place we rented was no exception. However, the story of the landscape around this particular property is unusual for the area because we were just by the Ashokan Reservoir which was built in the early 1900's, a tremendous engineering feat at the time, inundating as many as seven villages. The creation of the Ashokan Reservoir radically altered the landscape, making it difficult to relate any stonework to what the hills, streams and sites might once have been like. Whole temporary towns were built to house the workers, and those sites, too, altered things. It's hard to say whether any stonework near there is the kind of thing of interest to readers of rockpile blogs. With that said, I will present some photos. In Part 2 I'll show some rockpiles more likely to be native.

This wall ran downhill, interrupted by the house we stayed in.
I took this picture of it standing with my back against the house, looking uphill.
That wall is the one entering from the right in this picture. Walls went in several directions from this pile. Possibly these were accumulated during construction of the buildings on the property.
However, across the driveway from there, in the woods, was this large split rock. When I took this photo, I thought I was getting a great picture of the split rock and the low short walls that trailed from it on either end. But this is what I got, so it's all I can show you. None of the walls from the other side seemed to have connected to this. This is the most likely example of ritual stonework on this section of the property.


Further down the hill, on what is really protected land belonging to New York City, the wall that was interrupted by the house continued to a place where the land fell off abruptly, but not very deeply, a bank marked by large exposed stones, several yards from a small stream. It was getting dark (and do you know what mosquito populations can be like in a place where all pesticides are completely and permanently banned?!) so I couldn't get many more pictures of the walls and rock-on-rocks there. Maybe you can see the small group of stones on this boulder.


The proliferation of biting insects was equalled by a proliferation of frogs. The small creek, you might almost say rill, was full of frogs in a way creeks never are in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania anymore. I couldn't take a step along it without hearing the plunk! of frog bellies hitting water. I looked up to see a meadow of tall grasses some distance away and for a moment I thought I saw white egrets jumping--then I realized it was a herd of deer, only their tails visible in the grasses.

There's something to be said for leaving things in a natural state.

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