Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Patrick Flynn and Ronald Tipton, 2016.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On the Down Low: The Last Plateau

You never know what you may confront out on the trails. This morning as I came down the hill of Rockwood I ran into that couple with the two Pit Bulls again, and as before, one kept lunging for me. The dogs look well cared for, but I hope those people keep them well under control because I don't want to see anymore headlines about some kid being mauled by a Pit bull.

But it wasn't the lurching dog that scared me most this morning. When I was walking up a trail at Bellevue I saw a lady coming toward me. Lagging behind was what I assumed was her small dog. I wondered if she was aware how far her charge had fallen behind.

So I asked her, "Is that your dog?"

"No," she said, "that's a cat."

I continued walking and the cat continued coming toward me. It was a black and white feline looking somewhat like a combination of my own Brad and Hobo Joe. It came up to me going meow, meow, meow. I reached down and stroked its head. It was clearly well fed and cared for, not a feral.

I was turning up another path at this point, one to circle some trees and take me back on the way to Rockwood. The cat followed me up this path. Ut oh, the last thing I wanted was this cat adopting me. I would worry about it crossing the roads and Rockwood was a mile and a half to two miles away. I didn't want it going that far. If it did, what would I do?

I bent down and tried to reason with the cat. It is very hard to reason with a cat. Cats operate on their own terms. It went meow, meow, meow and rubbed my legs.

I went down a slope behind the trees and halfway down stopped to look back. The cat was sitting up at the top. A woman came jogging by me, perhaps the cat would take to her. I felt sure the cat lived in this park, probably as a mouser.

Now, back in Rockwood, I wanted to show you about the lower plateau and finish up this tour. So let's enter the gate to the pastureland and see what there is to discover there.

I went down these steps, gingerly I might add, to the lower layer of our cake (not to confuse anyone with MacArthur Park).  Then I walked around the embankment to see what might be there.

In our effort to always be informative, if you go listen to Richard Harris' version of "MacArthur Park" you will see he sings the words wrong. He constantly sings "MacArthur's park" rather than MacArthur Park. Now wasn't that life-changing news? There were a couple of other interesting things of note here besides Richard Harris' faux pas.

One was this doorway in the side of the hill. I didn't attempt to go inside. Perhaps this was the spring house or perhaps it is a root cellar.

Root Cellars were used to store vegetables and fruit to keep them fresh. Farms and homesteads  sometimes had more than one such utility and kept separate product in each. If this is the case, this one is certainly far more rudimentary than the Fruit Cellar we visited before. Maybe that one was used for the more glamourous apples, peaches and pears and this lowly dungeon was for the string beans and beets.

Sometimes these cellars were used to store home made alcoholic beverages, especially the illegal kind. Maybe that was the case here and is why it was tucked away beneath ground behind a lot of brush.

I don't know the hole-in-the-wall's purpose anymore than I do this wooden chute and bin. I really wonder what they would have brought down the narrow path above to drop down the chute.

Things to store in the Root Cellar?

It's a mystery to me.

Now let me go back a bit.

Previously we mentioned meeting a woman with a dog on the path in Bringhurst Woods. I was coming back toward Rockwood and had crossed into the short patch I call the No-Name Woods. Ahead I heard a steady, sharp yap-yap-yaping. As I turned a curve I saw a lady ahead with what appeared to be a miniature Collie, and it was the source of the sound. Neither seemed in distress, the dog was just very vocal.

When I approached this couple, lady and dog, I said, "Well, you'll never get lost in the woods, they can always follow the sound."

She laughed and said he did like to bark, it went with the breed.


"Oh, what is he?"

"He's a Sheltie." [For those unfamiliar with this breed, Sheltie is a nickname commonly used for the Shetland Sheepdog, you know the same place known for ponies.]

"I thought he might be a miniature Collie when I saw him."

"A lot of people think that about Shelties. They were developed in the Shetland Island to herd sheep. Thus they bark a lot. They had to bark to keep the sheep in line."

We walked together all the way back into and up the hill at Rockwood. We talked about dogs we had known and loved, and hopefully it was a pleasant discussion for both of us and not just me. We parted at the top of Rockwood hill as I turned to go down the steep side and she continued with yapping accompaniment down the gradual side.

Now as I stood in the lower plateau taking the photo of another gazebo I heard a familiar yap-yap-yap. I glanced over to the next pasture and there was the lady tossing a stick about, playing a game with the Sheltie. I turned and snapped their play.

I left them to their game and turned my attention to the large pasture below me where this other gazebo stood.

I walked down and entered the booth.

I have a thing for shooting picture through things. I'm just weird I guess.

This is the view from the gazebo of the hill with the man-made cave and the bin. The mansion sits on the higher plateau behind that cluster of trees.

I like this picture.

Something about those trees and the shadows, something spooky I think, like the trees are leaning, and with their shadows, trying to draw you that ways. There is an evil spirit lurking in the brush, which will feed on you and throw you down the Root Cellar. Hey, what'd you expect, I was once a professional pulp horror magazine writer!

But what else is there down in this lower level. I shift around and shoot out through a different side. This gives me a view of the drive that enters the park as it meanders through the pasture.

There is also some kind of ruin in the photo. We will have to go down and investigate what that is.
I leave the cozy gazebo and saunter across the field.

I have a friend who asks a question. Like me he is a walker and a picture-taker. He takes beautiful photos and he is getting better and better at it every year. You can find some of his photos on his Blog, "Retired in Delaware". Anyway, he asked the question,  "I still don't see anyone on these beautiful trails Lar. Where are the peeps?"


I usually try not to get people in my lens, I don't like to intrude upon them and I don't know how they would feel about my posting their faces on the Internet. I have a collection of very interesting people that I call, "In the Moment" and someday I just may publish it.  He will at least see one "peep" here, my momentarily walking partner and her dog romping in the field.


There is another reason for a lack of other human beings. I take my walks very early in the morning, usually just at sunrise. Frankly, most mornings there are very few, if any, others on the trails. The pictures in this post were taken at the end of my walk and some cars were just coming into the parking lot, but still not many.


One picture I regret not taking was of the woman with the Toy Fox Terrier. [Conversations with Dogs] I was in an awkward and potentially embarrassing position at the time the result of a wardrobe malfunction.


As I was nearing the bottom of the path where it crossed the road my shoelace had become undone. These modern shoelaces seem to do that a lot. I undid my coat and knelt on the macadam and tied it. As I stood up I noticed my fly had become undone and gapping. At the same instant, I notice the lady coming up the trail. I tried to zip up my pants and failed, and I tried to zip up my coat and fumbled that, so I stuck my hands in my coat pockets and pulled it in front of the problem. 


The whole time I had the conversation about the Toy Fox Terrier, I held the coat closed this way. It was especially tricky when I bend down to pet the Terrier, trying to keep a grip now with one hand, especially knowing that bending would only widen the gap.


I succeeded in accomplishing this meeting with a certain grace, keep covered and eventually escape to a secluded spot where I could get everything re-secured properly. But as much as I wanted a picture of the Toy Fox Terrier, there was no way to remove my camera from my belt, and hold it  up to take an exposure without exposing more than I wished. (I bet Ron is laughing at me. Yeah, like these kind of things never happened to you!)


Anyway, here we are at those ruins. What are they, you ask? 


Remember Joseph Shipley had purchased 211 acres from various people. This portion had been the farm of one Levi Weldin. (You may recall I was on a Weldin Road going to Alapocas.) The ruins here are part of Levi's house, so it predates the 1850s. I don't know when it fell to ruin, because in the 1890s the Bringhurst family turned the original structure into a playhouse for their son, Edward Bringhurst III. 


Perhaps Edward, Jr. played very rough.


The playhouse was a good piece down from the main house. They probably wouldn't have heard him smashing walls from up on the hill. 


Across from the ruins of the Levi/Playhouse ruins is a lake with a big fountain in its center spraying the sky with water. I really don't know if it is a natural lake or man made.


The structure beyond seems to be a service building for the park. It may have served as a guard house once upon a time.


Above the lake is the main parking lot. I usually circle around and end up parked on the upper portion near the lane exit, right in front of two twin trees. This is the only the lower portion of the lot in the picture so don't look for me. It is one way, so to get to the upper portion you must drive to the far end, go around the grass island and come back. 


If you continue out the far end there is a driveway. Turning right will take you down to the guard house and I don't think you are supposed to do that. I think there is a sign. I think you will be shot if you do.


Turning left will allow you to drive up the hill and park in the lot for the Carriage House.
I've never driven up the hill, I have always walked up.


At this particular time on this particular day, I decided to walk not up, but down a path running from the parking lot, along the lake and then toward the park entrance. I have never walked on this path before and was just curious.  It went pass this swale.


There were a lot of lights aimed in at the grove of trees just pass these rocks, almost as if it were a stage. Maybe it has been used for such a purpose, otherwise the layout of the lights didn't make a lot on sense to me.


A bit further, this path crosses the entry lane and then twists its way up the hill, going by a distant tree line and arriving up near the house where a confusion of lanes come together.


I have shown you just about everything possible for you to see other than coming to the place in person and walking about.


This is just one of the wonderful parks we have in this part of Delaware that make it a great state for walkers like myself.


Little left to do except go get my car and drive out between the concrete walls announcing where I have been. I notice that the name at the entry does say, "Rockwood Park", although everywhere else I have seen it listed as just Rockwood Museum. 


I guess it is both a museum and a park. I have never toured the mansion and someday I will do that. I don't know if they will allow picture-taking, as I noted before.


There is at the mansion a cafe called the Butler's Pantry. I am always there too early to stop in for a coffee or anything. It is only open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. It is also the obligatory gift shop that every such tourist stop must have by Divine Law.


Anyway, my walk is through and now I drive home down our country roads with the hope that Bellevue Cat is okay.


The white line on the road ahead is where the Northern Greenway crosses.







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