Saturday, April 18, 2015

Wild plums and pussytoes

Wild plum blossoms are frosting roadsides and woodland edges here in the south of Iowa as April advances --- and I spent some time yesterday admiring this thicket --- located along the quarter-mile lane that leads back to Strong Cemetery.

I'll have more to write about some of the people buried at Strong another day --- it's an interesting place. But the lane back to it is interesting, too --- one of those places where you should exit your vehicle and actually walk for a while.

Back when I was a kid and my granddad brought me here to talk about people he had known --- Molesworths, Byers, Moons, Askrens and others --- and poke around among fallen tombstones, the cemetery was a different sort of place. The grass was shaggy, and so were the fence rows.

That's all changed now --- the graveyard is neatly fenced, the maintained area has been enlarged and squared off and fallen tombstones uprighted. But the lane looks pretty much like it always has --- and I like that.


Headed back to town across country, down across English Creek and beyond, I turned into the lane to Brownlee Cemetery --- once a through road, now a "dead end" --- to revisit Isaac Renfro, another of my War of 1812 veterans. This was a shaggy place when I was a kid, too --- shaded by big pine trees that long since reached the end of their life spans and were taken away.

For some reason, we don't plant trees nowadays and I miss them here. On the other hand, there would have been no trees here 150 and more years ago when the first burials were made.

The grass is aggressively clipped nowadays, but I was happy to see a remnant of the natural landscape reasserting itself --- colonies of field pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta) popping up in circular patterns here and there in the short grass.

These prairie natives would grow taller were it not for periodic encounters with sharpened steel blades --- but they're doing the best they can.

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