Monday, February 17, 2020
Clearing Brush at Veblen Cottage
We could have had a javelin throwing contest, with all the sticks piled on the Veblen Cottage grounds, or studied the arc the branches made as we tossed them over the fence, as Veblen did with projectiles when he led a crew of mathematicians during WWI that helped improve understanding of ballistics.
But our main task for a Sunday afternoon was to clear years of accumulated brush from the cottage grounds. The easiest and most rewarding thing to do with it all was to toss it over the fence. Fortunately, the land on the other side of the fence is part of Herrontown Woods as well, and the resident wildlife will still have the benefit of cover the brush affords while we clean up the cultural landscape around the farmstead Oswald Veblen used as a study.
The workday was catalyzed by Rose and her mathematician husband Martin, who contacted us about volunteering. Thanks to friends who joined in: Kathryn, Victoria, Marian, Andrew and John.
The results exceeded our expectations. Most of the branches had been from Japanese maples that, though pretty in the fall, had begun to spread into the surrounding woodlands.
A surprise find under all the brush was the remains of a persimmon grove, whose distinctive chunky bark is still recognizable on the fallen logs. This is the second persimmon grove discovered at Herrontown Woods. The first is located halfway down the trail to the parking lot, and still has some living trees.