Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Equinox at Miantonomi's Cave

Last weekend I spent a delightful late afternoon  at Miantonomi's Cave.  It was a beautiful day to sit outside and enjoy the serenity of the place. Here is the view looking west.
 This structure was probably not surrounded by trees hundreds of years ago, when it was used as an observatory.   Today the light patterns may be diffused by the trees.  When I arrived at 5:35, the cave was in darkness because the boulder on top of the structure was blocking light from the windows. The large window is visible to the far left.
However, I did not have long to wait, since by 6:04, light was entering the cave through the large window and forming a large triangle on the wall. The light also formed a narrow streak where there is a notch in the large window.  This is the same notch that formed a prominent light streak on August 13.

As the light spread across the wall, it revealed two prominent marks in the wall, a shallow depression with a light, curved mark, and a large gouge. The picture above was taken at 6:12.  Here they are highlighted in a photo taken at 6:10 PM.
Finally, the light formed a sharp point at 6:17, and slowly vanished. In the lower photo, the edge of the projecting stone is seen to the right.

The cave was dark at 6:20 PM, sunset.  The whole progression of light in the cave only took about 30 minutes. The marks on the wall that the light traveled across are interesting.  The shallow curved one reminds me of Kokopelli, the fertility god from the southwest.  This would certainly be appropriate for vernal equinox. This mark seems deliberate, and it feels scratched-in.  Here is a close-up.
I can't wait to see what winter solstice will reveal.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

From the Archives

Lately I've been reviewing some of my old vacation photos.  Because of my habit of photographing "funny-looking rocks", some have tantalizing views of stone structures.  At the time, I didn't know what they were.
     So for a trip down Memory Lane....
     Here are two from a Sierra Club hike through Baylor Pass in the Organ Mountains east of  Las Cruces,  NM.  Since it was 1999, I used a Kodak disposable film camera, and had the pictures put on a 3-inch floppy.  Thank heavens my computer can still read it!
     Here's a rock that looks deliberately placed on top of a tall  boulder.
Along the trail was this strangely shaped propped boulder.
 Perhaps these structures served as trail markers, or had some other practical meaning for travelers.
     Now it is 2003, and I am proudly using a recently-affordable digital camera.  Walking along a trail, I see this strange pile of rocks and snap a quick shot.
This really looks like a pedestal boulder, and I wish I could go back and get more pictures.  It won't be anytime soon, because this is in Sequoia National Park!

Now it is 2005, and I have included this strangely balanced boulder in my overview of Canyonlands National Park.
Maybe this was produced by erosion of the rock under the boulder.  I see smaller rocks under it and to the right.  This area has many interesting sites, such as these granaries tucked away in high caves.
And from the same trip, here is one of my favorites, at nearby Arches National Park.

Maybe it too was produced by erosion of the underlying stone, but the rock to the right looks placed. It's a prominent sight along the trail to the Dark Angel.
This is a natural feature with a strange resemblance to a veiled human figure.
     Now for a change of scenery, here are some glacial erratics on bedrock, photographed in 2008.
 At the time, I thought the park rangers did this to keep hikers from rocking the boulders on themselves.
This is at Rocky Mountain National Park.
     There are stone structure all over the southwest, and in California.  The one area I visited and didn't photograph any stone structures was Washington State.  There was not a single structure in hundreds of photos from Olympic National Park and nearby areas.  The Indians there were very adept at carving wood into fine boxes and implements, so maybe carved wood was used instead of stone.  However, I did see this familiar sight at the Makah reservation, while visiting Cape Flattery.
A bent tree pointing the way to one of the most beautiful views.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Visit to a Campsite

When I was a little girl, I dreamed that all the water drained from South Watuppa Pond, leaving behind a wonderland of rocks that my family and I explored.  This dream came true, in a strange way, when the water level fell during the summer of 2010, revealing stone rows, old campsites, and manitous.
Here the water is draining from present-day South Watuppa Pond,  revealing stone rows. The large boulder in  the left foreground is at the end of an existing "wharf", and the view  is to the south, to the inlet where Sawdy Pond drains into the pond.   The falling water level has  also revealed the donations at the large turtle effigy. The curving edge of the donation pile is  artistic license.
The only way I can visit these sites as they were hundreds of years ago is through imagination and artwork
      A wigwam covered with straw mats stands near the north stone row at the west shore campsite.  The ambient glow from the sky reveals the hill to the north, while mist rises from Watuppa Pond. To the north stands a hill crowned by a large boulder.
The next morning, I sit on the floor of a wigwam and watch the sun rise in the east. I have removed the curtain from the doorway for a better view.

The large puddingstone is down by the shore. Under the benches are a small stone mortar, a birch bark box, baskets, and other household items. I enjoyed painting the dome-shaped Shotaye's Cave so much, I wanted to do the inside of a wigwam.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Seen in a New Light

Sunday afternoon I was walking up a street in Westport, MA, about 0.25 miles from the South Watuppa shoreline.  Here's what I noticed in a yard, right next to the driveway.

The neatly placed stone suggests the homeowner realizes this is probably a corn mortar. I had thought they were all lost to development, and here is one incorporated into the landscaping.
     Every time  I go kayaking on South Watuppa Pond, I notice something I hadn't seen before.  It's probably due to changes in daylight and the water depth and clarity.
     Monday I returned to the large turtle effigy with a grinding slick.  Someone else was also enjoying this serene location.
The water had gone down a little, and gotten clearer from the cooler weather.  Directly in front of the turtle a large cluster of stones was visible through the water.

These didn't photograph well because of the the glare, but the cluster  is about  four feet across. Donations?  Used grinding stones?  Or both?
     Further along the shore is this structure,
 which is in the back wall of this small enclosure.

I have seen this type of motif, a long stone resting on smaller ones, in stone rows in RI.  A little further to the east is a large manitou, nearly lost in the clutter of cottages and motorboats. It faces north, and  a puddingstone is nearly submerged in front of it.

These manitous standing in water are an eery sight.  I think this one originally marked the course of the Christopher Borden brook. It now faces north in a lovely marsh.