Alex Palmer's Natural History Notes and Thoughts

Thoughts and reflections on various social and environmental issues, as well as naturalist observations from the great outdoors.

Battleground wildflowers

On my way to visit my brother in Maryland, I stopped at a park that was right off of the highway.  It was one of the many dozens of federally managed national battlefields.  I stepped out of my car and headed down a short path.  All along the trail, fall-blooming wildflowers were at their peak.  Bright purple and yellow  New England Asters (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) lined the sides of the trail, while other asters and goldenrods where in full bloom throughout the forest floor and field edges.

I continued down along the short path into a small ravine area – when I was stopped dead in my tracks.  At the base of the hill upon which the trail had been descending lay a an old tombstone marking the location where British General Edward Braddock was buried after his death during the French and Indian War during the mid-17oos.  I glared at it for a moment, feeling myself suddenly as an intruder rather than a visitor, and I immediately made my way back up the hill to where my car was parked.

On my way out, I hit a stupid traffic jam out in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania before I entered Maryland.  This gave me some time to think.

I thought to myself how interesting it was that the spot where I was, with it’s mature trees and colorful fall wildflowers, could have been such an intense battle ground for so many years?  If that grave had not been there, I would have perhaps considered  that ravine to be a nice spot to relax and read a book…not as a place where war and death are in it’s recent history.

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