Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Return of the Beaver

Last weekend I went to a state park  in the northwest corner of Rhode Island.  As I walked around the pond, I saw many  recently gnawed trees surrounded by large wood chips.

And here is the beaver lodge.
This is the first time  I have ever seen a lodge and freshly gnawed trees.  Once practically every pond and lake in New England had beaver, and they changed the landscape by creating ponds with their dam building. Nearby are subtle reminders of the natives who once co-existed with the beaver.
Here on the east shore of the pond is either an eight-foot stone row or an elongated cairn. A few other cairns are barely visible through the heavy brush.
 A stone peeps out of a split boulder a few feet from picnic tables. I have seen slabs propped this way near old quarries. The stone made it easier to lift the top slab.
 Deep in the woods stands a strangely grooved boulder. The groove does not extend to the other side of the boulder.
 Close examination of the edges shows what looks like chipping. Perhaps this boulder was being  split like the one shown above. Or maybe this is a natural process involving water freezing and thawing repeatedly in a crack in the rock.
Nearby is this massive boulder which is completely surrounded by  a deep groove.
 The groove between the top and bottom halves is smooth and straight, without tool marks.  The groove extends at least a foot inward, as shown by the faintly visible daylight in the middle photo. There are no smaller stones between the two parts. Maybe this boulder was also being quarried, which must have been an arduous job with hand tools.
 Here is a reminder from nature that it is still winter: a surprise snow storm!

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