I grew up in Abington, Massachusetts during the 1990s. My family home was not the standard. I didn’t really have neighbors. Yeah, there was a house semi-close to us but it only held an elderly couple – nice people but not the best playmates. On the other side of my house? A graveyard…quiet neighbors, really.
So I spent a lot of time in the woods, which surrounded most everything else. It was a great back then, the deer population hadn’t quite blown up yet so deer ticks were still few and far between. It was also fairly young, for a woods. Maybe 150 years old?
It used to be farmland and you could tell this as you walked through it. Stonewalls stood, long abandoned, cutting through the woods every few hundred yards or so. They’ve held up surprisingly well, despite not being cared for in over a century. While the landscape has definitely changed, these walls remain – as does the occasional farm antiquity.
When I walked in those woods – then and today – I am reminded that history does not have clear cut endings. Periods don’t end, get obliterated, and replaced with something new – not usually. No, instead the new typically grows over the old. It disguises it, but it does not remove it, not without effort.
Some of you may have guessed where I’m going with this. The woods I grew up in can be seen as society. They grow, they change. Species settle in and get pushed out (plants and animals). Vernal pools form, marsh deepens, only to have both dry in the summer.
But the bones of the land change much more slowly. The stone walls are still there and may very well be hundreds of years from now…unless someone makes the effort to pull them down.