Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bringing Nature and Culture Together

The poem "A Bringing Together" lists all the ways the Veblens brought different entities together, including nature and culture. How did they bring nature and culture together? Their homestead on the edge of Herrontown Woods is a particularly good example of how wildness can transition into cultivation.
The woods, particularly as one climbs up the slope of the Princeton Ridge, is filled with diabase boulders. They are beautiful in their variety and groupings in the woods.

Some of these get put to use as stepping stones.

But as one approaches the Veblen homestead (this photo's from the 1950s), they begin to be put to all sorts of uses:

long rock walls,

a more carefully built circular wall for corralling and exercising horses,
a funerary, as well as other intentional gatherings: a fish pond, the house foundation, an oval of stones around the house. One's last step before entering the house is on a large flat stone placed as a front step before the threshold. .

Wood, too, gets put to use, its stored energy channeled into heat for the fireplace beside which Elizabeth would gather friends together for tea.

The straight, rot-resistant trunks of cedar trees became the four corners of the hay barrack (left in photo), used for storing firewood.

There is a balance here, where nature is not dominated, overrun or extinguished, yet its offerings are utilized in inventive ways.

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