Monday, May 11, 2009

A little history of my back yard

My yard lies right up against a park which used to be a farm. In the picture below you can see the little strip of no-man's land which runs between my yard (you can see my back yard fence) to the left and a long, narrow hill rising up at the right which serves as a buffer between my house and the park. The park people are responsible for mowing and upkeep here:

In the back corner of my back yard, looking just over the fence into the park, you can see some old irrigation piping from the farm, plowed-up rocks which were dumped in what used to be a shrubby buffer between farm fields. and some old fence posts still standing:

There's even an old bundle of barbed fencing wire:

My little town was an important junction on the underground railroad and it's said that the farm was one of the many safe stops here. Runaway slaves would hide out in the forest on the edge of the fields during the day, and find safe shelter in the barn at night until they could be transported to another safe place. We like to think that the forest they hid in during the day is where our back yard is now.

Ohio was a northern state, but runaway slaves weren't safe even in the northern states. They were hunted down by people who made money off of finding and returning them. They were only really safe when they reached Canada. Lake Erie and a boat to Canada was the goal of the runaways. Today, Lake Erie is only about a 40 minute drive away.

If you want to read an excellent children's book involving runaways and the underground railroad, then pick up Shelley Pearsall's book, Trouble Don't Last. It involves Ohio (though not my little town) and one of the routes which led to a boat and safety in Canada.

In the picture below, I'm standing in the back corner of my yard, looking toward the baseball fields in the park. In the foreground is the fence, then the remains of a horde of wild rose brambles which used to flow over my fence. For some reason they died off, but there are plenty more out there. The park left the brushy border between farm fields and it is now a brushy border between the baseball fields and the soccer fields.

If you have good eyes, you can just make out the tall lights that were erected only last week around the furthest ball fields. I'm not looking forward to their being turned on (if you click on the picture you can see them). I've posted about my feelings on artificial nighttime lighting before (you can find the posts - including this one - here):
In a spot just on the other side of my fence, in an area where the brambles died off, I found a clump of lemon balm growing. That made me happy.


jo said...

Oh my, oh my, oh my,
I feel your pain. Believe me.
Sharp lights like that and so tall. No defence against it.
"There's no Armour against Fate".

And that to happen to such a modest girl, who takes delight in finding Lemon Balm.
You're making me feel all guilty now for ripping that out by the square yard.
Anyway, you can start a cottage industry soon, cause in no time you will be kneedeep in the stuff.

Beware of innocent looking healthy plants!!
I don't see much of you these days. Something I said? Or not said?
Nudge, nudge.

ICQB said...

Hi Jo!

Heaven's no! I've just been a tad busy with lots of little things and feel guilty when I spend too much time at the computer.

My yard is about to overtake me and I suddenly have a million things which need my attention.

At least if the lemon balm takes over, it's not officially in my yard (yet). I do have a small patch under some trees, but believe it or not, it's not thriving and I actually encourage it because unitl now it was my only source (I use it in a tea when I feel a cold coming on).

I will use your nudge to make it over to your neck of the woods (actually literally - I'll be in England for a few days in June).

jo said...

Tell me more:
Holiday? Work? Is this unexpected?
Where abouts?
Actually, you missed the stars which are not where you looked but here.
Have you been before? UK I mean. Going to other countries?
I never travel because of my health, and get very excited when others do. Secondhand Rose, that's me, livingwise.

ICQB said...

Hi Jo!

My husband is teaching a study abroad course. He's already overseas with students. We (kids and I) will join him at the end and do a little sight seeing. First Greece, then Paris, then the U.K.

I've been to Paris (in my youth), but never the other places.

Am nervous, not about traveling, but about all of the things that lead up to it that one must do to ensure that everything at home (pets, garden, etc) won't be neglected.

Love the stars! The roses are beauties. My maiden name was Rose, so I have an affinity.

jo said...

Have a lovely time.
Talk to you agin in the autumn,

ICQB said...

Hi Jo!

I won't be gone all that long - just two weeks in June. So I'll still be around : )

It's not too easy to get rid of me ; )