Friday, October 29, 2010

Catbrier, Spotted Wintergreen, and Cross Vine

Abandoned homesites in the woods are strange and beautiful places. The one I visited this morning, for instance, is slowly disappearing into the forest. Cedar and Sweetgum trees are growing from the hole that was the basement, the stacked stone foundation has fallen apart in most places and overgrown with moss. The old barn, rotted from the bottom up, is only the angled tin roof sitting on the ground. Wild grape vines that grow on the still-standing chimney are three inches in diameter.

The strangeness comes mostly from the fact that many farming families once had the habit of throwing their trash in a pile quite near the house. As Daisy and I wandered around the homesite today I found some of the expected junk: rusty cans with triangular punched holes, old bottles (baby bottle, milk bottle, brown Clorox bottle, Ball jars, Pepsi, old Dukes mayo), broken bottles with ebony spleenworts growing inside, as well as broken pottery, half a turquoise milkglass mug, and old lightbulbs. Rusty metal blends right into the leaf litter and crunches when you step on it. When I stubbed my toe on something and went back to look, I saw a curved metal edge rising an inch above the soil. A hard tug brought out an old car horn - the wide end 5 inches across, the length about 15 inches.

Another surprise was tripping over a very disguised coil from an old box spring. I turned and had to stare hard to see it, but once I did I realized it was the whole boxspring! The springs were everywhere! it was amazing I made it through the maze at all. Fifty (or more) years' worth of leaf litter had fallen and rotted, and many plants were happy to grow in the rich humus it made: Cedar, ironwood, holly, sweetgum and small oak trees grew all around, as did ferns and spleenworts. The small wildflowers (above) paid no attention to the Dr. Seuss-ish curls of the box springs and grew all around and between them.

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