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After getting involved in other stuff for, oh, nine months, I was in the mood to play with again tonight (spurred by the knowledge that my 80-year-old aunt whose the genealogy buff on that side of the family is in a nursing home with bone cancer, so I should really collect what I have found so far sometime real soon now).  And I found a tidbit that only makes sense now that I understand the nuances of colonial Massachusetts:

My 7th-great grandfather was born in 1683 in Bristol, Massachusetts.  Died in 1757 in Bristol, Rhode Island.  Same place, brand new breakaway colony.  So I wasn't surprised to find that yup, his father was born in 1651, his mother in 1655, both in Salem, Massachusetts.  My response to this: Yeah! I don't just have pilgrims in my family, and have the pilgrims who said "F*&^ you" to the soon-to-be witch-burners and got the hell outta dodge before things got toasty!  Counterculture hippy pilgrims!  Yeah!

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I was taking the commuter rail into Boston yesterday during the blizzard, which is my favorite way to enjoy fresh snow.  I'm inside, nice and warm, but able to watch scene after scene unfold, fierce and delicate, my eyes feasting on unending beauty, but newly insatiable with every change.  

One of the things that struck me this time around was the pine trees, the way the branches bent down like a folded-up umbrella under the weight of this thick, wet snow.  The smaller branches of the deciduous trees curved, and some of the larger ones snapped, of course, but by and large they were able to stand unmoved because their leaves weren't there to hold so much snow that they'd break.

And, since I'm a geek, I ended up thinking about evolution.  Losing your leaves in the fall is quite handy when heavy snows fall.  But the evergreens have their own adaptation: bending.  Lumber people talk about hardwoods and softwoods.  I'm fuzzy on which trees give which type of wood, but I know pine is considered soft, oak hard.  I don't know if there are any hard, unbending woods that come from evergreens, or any soft deciduous trees.


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Violet Wilson

October 2016



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