America | History

I Wonder About Such Things

Who stood here, on this foot-worn knob of ledge looking out on the valley below? Not just today, but one, two or three hundred years ago? I wonder about such things.

One hundred years ago a young couple, riding up from the mills of Lawrence or Haverhill, getting out of the city for some country air. This spot would surely be an attractive picnicking spot for quietly plotting their future together. A mixture of plowed fields and young forest creeping back in. A fine spot to debate the wisdom of the start of Prohibition or the long-overdue right to vote for women.

Two hundred years ago, a farmer surveying the land for as far as his eyes could see all plowed fields and grazing land fenced in with large stone pulled all too frequently from the soil. Did he think about his stone walls cross-crossing the land marking his time here long after he left this earth? It was a hard life working the rocky soil. This ledge might have given him a moment’s rest in a lifetime of long, grinding days.

Three hundred years ago, this ledge might have offered tactical advantage for the Abenaki still fighting for this wilderness of old growth forest. This high ground offered a place to ambush a hunter up from the settlements. But by this time they’d been driven further north and west, and this wilderness would soon be transformed wholly, as the entire continent would be. The Abenaki surely saw the threat of encroaching settlements. Could they imagine all the changes that would come?

I wonder about such things now, as I stand with ghosts on this ledge, hearing their whispers. It is indeed good land, slowly returning to its original state. This ledge could tell her secrets given the chance. And now I’m just one more story, standing atop an old knob of granite, thinking I might live forever, but the ledge reminds me of the folly in that belief.

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