Friday, September 11, 2009

Notes from Turtle Creek (3). Ted Browning.

The Kennett Paper. Chadds Ford, PA: Brandywine Conservancy. 1991.

Why read it? I’m sure you have never heard of Ted Browning. He wrote essays on nature, specifically in Chester County, Pennsylvania. He urges that open space be distinguished for conservation of natural processes or modified for parks, playgrounds, green space. He died young. The editor of the paper in which Ted published his essays, said plaintively: “I wish he were here to put it in perspective for us. I wish he could…explain to us why the katydids are louder than usual, the shad bush blossoms more brazen, the fall colors more muted, the dogwoods duller.” p. xiii.

Sample Quotes and Ideas:

“The entire creature [peeper] turns into an echo chamber, a tiny musical instrument from head to toe, vibrating all over, the unearthly swamp music of early spring.” p. 44.

“The eastern box turtle has crawled the woodlands for 500 million years, an evolutionary relic of ice ages and meteorite collisions that wiped out fierce beasts such as mastodons, dinosaurs and saber-toothed tigers.” p. 45.

“…the turtle occupies the same position in native American cultural mythology as does Atlas in Western tradition…hold up the earth and carry it upon their backs.” p. 45.

“The shell of the turtle is built of 13 squarish bony plates fused together—each with its own distinctive shape and to the Indian, each plate represented one of the full moons in the year (there are 12 full moons in a year plus an extra one every few years).” p. 46.

Red Lion Road is an ancient cartway sunk into the earth by erosion from heavy-footed oxen and by the iron-ribbed wheels on the wagons they used to pull.” p. 49.

“The seasons, they go round and round/ The painted ponies go up and down/ We’re captives on a carousel of time.” p. 54.

Ted Browning’s 15 great natural events of the year:

Skunk cabbage blooming

Return of red-winged blackbird

Song of the spring peepers

Dogwood blooming

Leaf burst

Arrival of spring warblers

Song of the wood thrush

Night sky

The rising of the summer triangle

Bloom of Summer meadow wild flowers

Swallows gathered on telephone wires

Katydid singing

Beginning of hawk migration

Fall color at peak

Night sky

Rising of Orion the Hunter

First snowfall of winter

Pond freezes over.

p. 54.

To be continued.

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