Tuesday, March 17, 2009

North Woods death march

Noah and I went to Washington DC this last week and had a great time walking to the monuments, the White House, and a few museums. When Noah announced on Day Two that he didn't like walking and he didn't like museums, it was time for a new plan. On Sunday we rented a car and drove north out of town.

We crossed over some relic Appalachian mountains and through a 18th century village founded by Daniel Boone's cousins (sure sign that we were headed for the wilderness). We even crossed the Appalachian Trail. But I didn't realize how far north we'd gone until I saw this sign:

The amateur forest ecologist in me got snarky. Apparently the North Woods of white pine and northern hardwoods had petered out exactly right here. Apparently, decades of debate among forest ecologists, about ecotones and isotherms had been settled. A National Park Service interpretive sign marked the spot.

In fact, this was at the Antietam battlefield, site of "the bloodiest day" of the Civil War. Just back of this sign is the Corn Field, where about 1000 each of Union and Confederate soldiers died in a massive face-off.

Here's a painting of the battle, from Captain James Hope of the 2nd Vermont Infantry. The soldiers in the front left are Confederate artillery. The "North Woods" are in the back left. The lines on the right are Union soldiers marching to their death.

The symmetry was nice...they marched to their death to protect Washington DC, and I nearly marched Noah to death in Washington DC. Only they were patriotic and I was just trying to be a good father.

No comments: