Full Beaver Moon

Hmm, seems I forgot to post about the October “Hunters” Full Moon while in England. It rained most of the time and I didn’t even notice the moon. Tonight is quite different. I am sitting this full moon out in the Airstream parking lot in Lexington, SC. This is my 3rd attempt at getting my little refrigerator fixed so it can work on electricity. The parking lot is very well lit, and the moon is just as bright.

November’s full Moon is called the Beaver Moon. This is the time of year when beavers begin to take shelter in their lodges, having laid up sufficient stores of food for the long winter ahead. During the time of the fur trade, it was also the season to trap beavers for their thick, winter-ready pelts.  The November full Moon is also called the Full Frost Moon. Judging by the often chilly weather that becomes more and more common at this time of year, it’s not hard to understand how this name came about!

Join me in my monthly ritual and fill your favorite drinking glass with a beverage of your choice and toast to living the dream, or dreaming the dream.  Toast to family, friends, health, and wellness. I am also wishing that the refrigerator part arrives promptly tomorrow morning, the installation goes quickly, and I can be on my way to Savanna Georgia.

Beaver Moon

Great Dismal Swamp

I love it when I go somewhere and expect one thing but get another. I went to the Great Dismal Swamp on the border of Virginia and North Carolina, to see a swamp and the birds that usually go with it. Instead I saw canals and a glimpse into the past.

What I expected to see

The Dismal is Named: Colonel Byrd led a band of surveyors into the Swamp in 1728 to run a dividing line between the disputing colonies of Virginia and North Carolina. They were almost devoured by yellow flies, chiggers and ticks. Under these conditions, Byrd is credited with the “Dismal” name. Europeans also referred to areas where water stood for long periods of time as “dismals”.

Dismal Swamp Canal: In May 1728. George Washington made his first visit and suggested draining the swamp and digging a north-south canal to connect the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and Albemarle Sound (see my previous post). They hoped to drain the Swamp, harvest the trees and use the land for farming. The Canal is the oldest continually operating man-made canal in the US, opened in 1805. The canal was dug completely by hand; most of the labor was done by slaves hired from nearby landowners. It took approximately 12 years of back-breaking construction under highly unfavorable conditions to complete the 22-mile long waterway, which opened in 1805.

Juniper Water: The Swamp water is amber-colored and unusually pure, preserved by the tannic acids from he bark of the juniper, gum and cypress trees. These conditions make it difficult for bacteria to grow. Before the days of refrigeration, water from the Swamp was a highly prized commodity on sailing ships.

Lore & Legend: The older and best known of the Dismal Swamp legend is that of the Lady of the Lake, a myth the Irish poetry Thomas Moore canonized in 1803 in his poem “The Lake of the Dismal Swamp“. Most good legends are rooted in reality. Eerie lights in the middle of the night are not uncommon and have been attributed to ghosts, private, madmen, or flying saucers. Foxfire is he source of this strange lights.

Foxfire

Maroons & The Underground Railroad: For centuries escaped slaves came to Great Dismal Swamp seeking freedom. For some, the sprawl of the densely forested wetlands was only a stopping point on their journey northward. For others, the swamp became a permanent home where they established hidden, largely self-sufficient settlements. They were called maroons, a word that comes from the French word marronage, meaning “to flee,” or “to be removed.” Maroon communities developed throughout the American South, especially in inaccessible swampy areas. Because the maroons lived in secrecy, it is impossible to known exactly how many people called Great Dismal Swamp home. Recent research suggests that as many as 50,000 maroons may have lived here over the period of years between the mid 1600’s and the Civil War.

Moonshine in the Swamp: Moonshiners took refuge in the Great Dismal Swamp to make their whiskey. It was quite the operation. There was a Boiler, Cooker, Doubler/Thumper, Dry Barrel and Condenser.

Moonshine Operation

Dismal Swamp State Park has a wonderful visitor center and trails to walk

Pamlico Sound

My first full day in North Carolina, was the last day of the season that the North Carolina Estuarium would be leading their river boat tours within Pamlico Sound. Lucky me, made it on the morning cruise. The river trip was lovely, but not as birdy as I would have hoped. We did see an Osprey, Bald Eagle, Blue Heron, Cormorants, turtles, and a ton of gulls.

Pamlico Sound is the largest lagoon along the North American East Coast, extending 80 miles long and 15 to 20 miles wide. It is part of a large, interconnected network of lagoon estuaries that includes 7 different Sounds. Together, these sounds, known as the Albemarle-Pamlico sound system, comprise the second largest estuary in the US, covering over 3,000 sq. mi. of open water.(Chesapeake Bay is the largest.) The Pamlico Sound is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Outer Banks, a row of low, sandy barrier islands The Albemarle-Pamlico Sound is one of nineteen great waters recognized by the America’s Great Waters Coalition.

All these “sounds” got me thinking – Why is a sound called a sound? Google was able to help: A  sound is a large sea or ocean inlet larger than a bay, deeper than a bight, and wider than a fjord. The term sound is derived from the Anglo-Saxon or Old Norse word sund for a narrow fairway (smalt farvann).

Indomitable Hellcat

I love that description: Indomitable Hellcat. On a gorgeous fall day in southeast Pennsylvania I visited Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and learned about the founder, Rosalie Barrow Edge (1877 -1962) a New York socialite, suffragist, and amateur birdwatcher who in 1929 established the Emergency Conservation Committee to expose the conservation establishment’s ineffectiveness, and strongly advocate for species preservation. In 1934 Edge also founded the world’s first preserve for birds of prey. During the Great Depression, Edge was considered the United States’ most militant conservationist (Hawk of Mercy). In 1948, a profile of her in The New Yorker described her as “the only honest, unselfish, indomitable hellcat in the history of conservation” (New Yorker, April 17, 1948). I like to believe there have been some more Conservational Hellcats since that publication.

The sanctuary was very popular that fine Thursday, and I joined many hikers young and old, to watch the great raptor migration. I saw one Sharp Shinned hawk and several Turkey Vultures, a mere sample of what was recorded that day. (See Chart below)

Rosalie Barrow Edge

Hershey – More than Chocolate

I came to Hershey Pennsylvania to indulge my love of chocolate. Not only did I accomplish that, I learned a great deal about Milton Hershey, a hero of history. I was quite inspired by his philanthropy and fortitude in not letting his initial failures get in the way of creating his dream.

Milton Snavely Hershey (September 13, 1857 – October 13, 1945) was an American chocolatier, businessman, and philanthropist. The first Hershey Bars were sold in 1900, and proved so popular that he was able to build his own company town of Hershey, Pennsylvania, reflecting his beliefs about the effect of comfortable living conditions on staff morale.

Since Hershey and his wife could not have children, they decided to help others, establishing the Hershey Industrial School with a Deed of Trust in 1909. Originally established for local orphans, but now accommodating 2000 students.

During the Great Depression Milton Hershey launched  his “Great Building Campaign” to bolster the local economy. Townspeople found work building the structures that would eventually become some of the major tourist attractions in town, and the result was a town that offered facilities and features unheard of for a community of its size. And no one lost their job during that time.

Woodstock Golden Anniversary

On August 15-18, 1969, over 450,000 people from across the country came together on Max Yasgur’s farm to participate in one of the pivotal events of the 1960s. They left as a community inspired to change the world through peace and love.

While I was only 11 at time, the music from the 60s was a large part of growing up. As I stood on the area where the stage was, I was deeply moved by a sense of peace and awe. I could imagine the throngs of people enjoying the music and the sense of community. I could hear my favorites playing in my head: Santana, Grateful Dead, Arlo Guthrie, Credence Clearwater, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Blood Sweat and Tears, Joe Cocker, Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, The Who. I was surprised to see that Sha Na Na was there.

While a part of me wished I could have been there myself, since I’m not very confortable in crowds, I was glad for the solitude of the cold and windy day to contemplate what it must have been like 50 years ago.

Main Stage
View of the hill
Cairns left on the stage by pilgrims like me
Jimi Hendrix
Joe Cocker
Set Lists

Ancestor Tour of England

I joined 29 of my cousins, all Stukely Westcott descendants, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of his marriage to Juliana Marchant (my 8th Great Grandparents) on October 5th, 1619, in the beautiful 14th century St John The Baptist church in Yeovil, UK . Our trip made the Yeovil Papers

While there we also visited St. Mary’s of Battersea where Benedict Arnold, (my 3rd Cousin 6 x removed) was buried with his wife and daughter. Benedict Arnold’s life may have ended badly but was once a patriotic war hero valued by George Washington and admired by his men.

We visited Plymouth, one of Englands original trading posts, it was the point that the Mayflower set sail on its famous voyage (including William Bradshaw the father of my 2nd great uncle). It is also where Sir Frances Drake set sail from; Juliana Marchant is the granddaughter of Captain John Marchant (my 10th great grandfather) who sailed with Drake against the Spanish Armada. I found a sign on a building pointing to another potential cousin.

From there we moved on to Exeter Cathedral, founded in 1050 by Edward the Confessor (who went on to found Westminster Abbey, London) where John de Wescote (my 20th Great Grandfather) was Canon Residentiary from 1216-1272.

Afterwards we visited the city of Bath to view the ancient thermal baths, and have afternoon tea at the Pump Room. (I can imagine Jane Austin roaming these streets and visiting the Pump Room as well.

We motored through the rolling hills of Cotswolds, bubbling brooks and quaint villages before continuing on to Stratford-Upon-Avon to visit Anne Hathaway’s cottage.

On our way back to London we stopped at Oxford for a short tour of England’s first University City. It was quite fascinating to learn about the life of the students and the 36 colleges there.

Some of the other things I was excited to see was Stonehenge and the Rosetta Stone, Big Bend, the Eye, London Bridge, the Tower of London, some of the Queen’s horsemen, and other cool exhibits at the British Museum.

All in all a very enjoyable and educational jam packed bustling trip. We covered a lot of miles, and saw the beautiful English countryside.

I am very excited to be back on the Road in Bob heading south for the winter at a much slower pace.