Wednesday, January 5, 2011
There Is More To Riding Than Just Riding
The woods are a beautiful classroom. In this shot we are paused at a clearing in a pine plantation that is a result of what, in our area, are called 'round pounds' and are called 'cat ponds' in some part of the country. Small, impermeable layers of super fine clay and silt cause water to remain above ground in round pounds for all but the driest of seasons. They drown out the trees and allow sunlight to hit the forest floor. This allows for vegetative diversity, more insects, which feed more birds, which attract more bob cats, who cause young raccoons to walk gingerly as they seek out craw fish around the round pond's edges.
Deer trails, coyote tracks, and even a bear sighting give city kids a chance to see and learn what all kids should have an opportunity to see and learn.
The same is true for historical education. It is hard for the kids to understand that Isle of Wight county, on the banks of the James River, across from Hampton, was once the frontier of English settlements. We ride where John Smith walked in 1608 when he came to the village of Mokete to trade for Indian corn. We ride past the area where Benedict Arnold camped his men during the Revolution. We swim our horses in the river off from Fort Boykin which was manned in every war fought on American soil. We ride around the remnants of Fort Bee, a major Confederate resupply center during the Peninsula Campaign. We ride by the small tracts of land once owned by freedmen during Reconstruction and beyond, but now are merely lines on a plat and words in a deed. We ride past farms where young German and Italian POW's harvested peanuts.
It is easy to get in touch with history while sitting on the backs of Corollas and Shacklefords whose ancestors came to America nearly 500 years ago.
That is 'living history.'
Posted by Steve Edwards