Sunday, February 10, 2008

Adena Mounds

Photo attribution: "Copyright by J. Q. Ja...Image via Wikipedia
So—yesterday I drove up to Highbanks Park, in the north end of the city, and because I've been sick for two weeks straight, opted not to do a long run, but wanted at least a token excursion to get some fresh air and bestir my heartbeat, so I walked trails for an hour and ten minutes, this time taking the northern loopy trail that I couldn't go on the last time I was there because the old feller volunteer at the nature center said it was closed because there had been snow and then a thaw with temperatures in the forties, so was too muddy.

There were no signs up yesterday saying don't go, so I went, and passed by a dozen or so other brave people while I was out. The route on the map is a bit confusing, but not hard to follow once you're on it. It's possible to make a complete looping out and back and cover everything, despite the appearance of a black widow's nest layout on the map.

It turned out to be only marginally passable, ranging from mildly sloshy to suck-your-shoes-off muddy. In fact, there were a couple of places I wondered how I was going to get around without having to wade through mud up to my shoe tops. Nonetheless, I managed to find sufficient roots and tree branches to hang onto, passing by on the edges of the trail, and didn't get too terribly filthy.

On the way back I encountered a man wearing up-to-the-knees riding boots. He seemed proud to demonstrate with alacrity his willingness to stomp straight through the the middle of the schloppfiest routes through the mud. His presumed wife had to walk around it. The expression on his face as he went by said: "I'm havin' fun, dude. Sorry about you!" Boys will be boys.

On the trip I encountered something labeled "Adena Mound." Sure enough, there was this anomalous lump in the landscape, one-hundred feet or so across at the base, rising perhaps ten feet at its peak. I didn't think too much about it, except that there is a second place in the same park also called "Adena Mound," which I encountered my first time at the park. So—How can you have two landmarks with the same name? I wondered.

My theory was that back in olden days of yore there was a local farmer named Adena who had a knack for discovering mounds. So like, one evening after chores back in 1870 or so, Chester Adena and his wife would go out exploring the woods in the area, and it would be like: "Oh say! What have we here? I do believe I've found a mound, Cindy Lou!" "And I believe you are quite right about that, Mr. Adena!" Cindy Lou would reply with loyal enthusiasm. So they'd put up a marker and call it Adena Mound, and thus they are all called to this day, somehow preserved and not flattened for highways and shopping malls out of respect for Chester Adena, who became such a well-known farmer philanthropist that they eventually named the tiny village of Adena, Ohio, in the far east of the state, after him to honor his memory.

Of course, I realized this was just a theory, and knew it was possible I could be wrong.

Imagine my surprise when I looked up Adena Mound in the Ultimate Authority of All Human Knowledge (the Wikipedia) and discovered that the Adena were a people who inhabited the area around 1000 BC, long, long before the possibility of any European contact (which fact no doubt helped them to live longer, happier lives), and that these people were known for—you guessed it—building mounds! (They didn't have Second Life and in those days to keep them entertained.) And these mounds seem to have served as burial structures, ceremonial sites, historical markers and possibly gathering places.

Well shut my mouth! A person could learn something wandering around in these parts.
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