Monday, December 12, 2011

Today in the Virginia Woods

I spent this morning down near Quantico, checking in with my crew and exploring a few acres of woods. I saw some interesting things.

Like the remains of a hawk's feast.

And this strange tableau of lace and leopard-print lycra, the leavings of who knows what sordid debauchery.

And this old road,

which I followed until I found this house site. These concrete foundations date to the 1920s, but the site is probably older than that.

I knew I was approaching a house site even before I saw the steps or the foundations because of the change in the vegetation. Many old farms around here were abandoned in the 1930s or 1940s, and those that have been allowed to revert to forest almost all have this peculiar assemblage of plants: a meadow of an invasive weed called Japanese stiltgrass, surrounded by walnut or hickory trees, overhung with grape vines. I have asked several botanists why this community of plants grows on old house sites, but gotten no answers. If I ever get one, I'll pass it along.

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