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The Fortean Forest

December 2nd, 2015

Freetown State Forest in Bristol County, MA: apparently it is full of weirdness. It’s in the middle of the Bridgewater Triangle, the Hockamock Swamp abuts it, the Dighton Rock museum is just across I95 on the Taunton River estuary. I’m not especially one for touring the apocryphal weirdness; there’s just so much actual, true weirdness to be had. But with exactly one afternoon available to me amid Thanksgiving to drag a few semi-unwilling members of my family out to some wilderness within range of SW Boston suburbs to celebrate not supporting the capitalist establishment on Black Friday, the Fortean forest was it.

Profile Rock

Profile Rock, Assonet, MA. I’m pretty sure that 1902 postcard on the Wikipedia page is completely wrong.


Delightful incidental art on Joshua’s Mountain.



Both of these appear on the same forked beech.

From Profile Rock, looking towards Dighton.

Not pictured: flooded, 350 year old foundations along Payne Rd; ugly, locked concrete building in the shape of a pair of octogonal spectacles which now encloses Dighton Rock; vast fields of solar farms; marina; deer; donkey; Wampanoag ghosts, bigfoot, pterodactyls.

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Through Woods to See the Wizard

October 6th, 2013

It’s an aspect of the nature of light, because it travels uniformly in every direction from the point of its source, that upon encountering any evenly distributed scattering of objects, it produces the illusion of an enclosing sphere. This is perhaps most familiar in the globe that surrounds headlights seen through a rain-fogged window or a distant streetlamp observed through heavily falling snow.

Early fall reminds me of a slightly different manifestation of this same effect. Overcast light, diffused through deciduous forest canopy, strikes thinning, yellow-green leaves in such a way as to transform trunks and branches into arching pillars and a gold-carpted trail through woodland to a corbeled, green-golden cathedral vault, like the grand passage leading through the Emerald City to the doors of the Wizard’s audience chamber.

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October 21st, 2010

I live in the land of graveyards now. The dead are everywhere. They don’t even stay behind their wrought-iron fences; anyplace there’s a patch of grass and trees crammed between railroad tracks and the street, they might be there. The other day I found a revolutionary war captain buried under the oaks at the south end of the Arboretum.

This one’s from Forest Hills Cemetery.

   Altars, Fall, Horror | 3 Comments »

False Solomon’s Seal Berries aka Treacleberry

September 17th, 2010

Smilacena racemosa, Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, MA

White flowers in late spring/early summer, berries in late summer. When the berries turn red they do taste kind of treacley–molassesy/woody/fruity, with a tart skin a bit like a concord grape skin in texture and a slick white seed.

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Writing Spider

October 12th, 2009

Argiope aurantia

Yes, it is actually called that. Because of the white jagged line it sews into its web, which I suppose is for stability, but on the other hand may be there in order to contribute to the already hypnotic effect had by the tattoo on its back depicting the spider’s Lovecraftian collective alien hive-mind deity, Atlach-Nacha, aka Iktomi, aka Xochiquetzal.

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October 3rd, 2009

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Tzompantli Pumpkin

November 2nd, 2008

Tzompantli is the nahuatl word for a wooden rack used by the Zapotecs and Toltecs for the decorative architectural display of sacrificed human heads—images of which appear all over Central America in pre-Colombian stone carvings, murals, and scrolls, and no doubt have had at least some small influence on the modern celebration of the day of the dead.

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Maize God Bows to Death God

October 26th, 2008

Maize God trying forlornly to get used to his new winter abode on the window-bench above the Sandman comics.

This week I declared garden season officially over, so dug up and brought in some herbs: chives, parsley, rosemary, basil, and oregano. Maize God, Owl and Jasper came in too. Though the lemon thyme is still out there waiting. Ran out of potting medium. Amazingly, though there has been frost practically every night for the last couple of weeks, the sun gold tomato plant in the pot outside my front door still produces a new tomato every few days. Not the most delicious tomato ever, but I am impressed with its resilience.

We had a monster of a windstorm last night—one of those weird, last-gasp summer thunderstorms where the power goes out, the branches batter the window screens, and it’s 30 degrees warmer than it ought to be. Which is how I found myself sitting about drinking barleywine in the dark, flipping through precolombian art books by candlelight for pumpkin-carving inspiration, and taking low-light photos of my apartment to pass the time.

Look what popped up in my email this morning, thanks to my “mossy skull” Google alert:

   Fall, HM, Visions | No Comments »

Dancing Crow Pumpkin

October 20th, 2008

This may or may not be my official pumpkin carving for the season. I have wild ambitions for something really complicated, a cylindrical frieze featuring the Mayan death god. But that will require several hours of dedicated free time, and considering how neglected this here blog has been of late, such time may never materialize.

So just in case I never get around to it: Happy Hallowe’en! Grab that fiddle and a jug of barley-wine and head down to the fields for a moon dance!

Cold Mountain water
the jade merchant’s daughter
Mountains of the Moon,
Elektra, bow and bend to me
Hi ho the Carrion Crow
Hi Ho the Carrion Crow
Bow and bend to me

—Robert Hunter, “Mountains of the Moon”

   Fall, HM, Visions | 2 Comments »

Berkshires in Late Fall

November 25th, 2007

This is some kind of serious glacial anomaly I came across after getting my socks soaked in Chesterfield Gorge. The picture doesn’t really convey the size—the rock is maybe 9 feet across and at least 3 feet tall (not including the part of it that’s submerged in mud). It doesn’t match any of the rock of the surrounding gorge, as you will note from the next picture. It’s sculpted so smooth by the water it almost looks like carved marble. I wonder how it got here.

The usual local rock, sedimentary shale.

Horse Mountain, Haydenville, MA. The white fuzzy stick-animals are alpacas.

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