Monday, October 25, 2010

Poem for Monday and Maryland State Parks

Barbara Frietchie
By John Greenleaf Whittier

Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn,

The clustered spires of Frederick stand
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.

Round about them orchards sweep,
Apple and peach tree fruited deep,

Fair as a garden of the Lord
To the eyes of the famished rebel horde,

On that pleasant morn of the early fall
When Lee marched over the mountain wall,—

Over the mountains winding down,
Horse and foot, into Frederick town.

Forty flags with their silver stars,
Forty flags with their crimson bars,

Flapped in the morning wind: the sun
Of noon looked down, and saw not one.

Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten;

Bravest of all in Frederick town,
She took up the flag the men hauled down;

In her attic-window the staff she set,
To show that one heart was loyal yet.

Up the street came the rebel tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.

Under his slouched hat left and right
He glanced: the old flag met his sight.

"Halt!"—the dust-brown ranks stood fast,
"Fire!"—out blazed the rifle-blast.

It shivered the window, pane and sash;
It rent the banner with seam and gash.

Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf;

She leaned far out on the window-sill,
And shook it forth with a royal will.

"Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country's flag," she said.

A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came;

The nobler nature within him stirred
To life at that woman's deed and word:

"Who touches a hair of yon gray head
Dies like a dog! March on!" he said.

All day long through Frederick street
Sounded the tread of marching feet:

All day long that free flag tost
Over the heads of the rebel host.

Ever its torn folds rose and fell
On the loyal winds that loved it well;

And through the hill-gaps sunset light
Shone over it with a warm good-night.

Barbara Frietchie's work is o'er,
And the Rebel rides on his raids no more.

Honor to her! and let a tear
Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall's bier.

Over Barbara Frietchie's grave,
Flag of Freedom and Union, wave!

Peace and order and beauty draw
Round thy symbol of light and law;

And ever the stars above look down
On thy stars below in Frederick town!


We spent Sunday afternoon at parks and farms surrounding South Mountain in Frederick and Washington Counties. We had been debating either going to the science expo downtown on the National Mall or going to Mount Vernon's harvest festival, but we were at Mount Vernon a few weeks ago and will be on the National Mall next weekend for Stewart and Colbert's rally, so we figured this was our best chance to see the fall color in the Paul's parents said they'd meet us at Gambrill State Park to picnic, and we haven't seen them in several weeks. We walked around the summit of High Knob at Gambrill, where we saw many, many stinkbugs, particularly on the sunny side facing Middletown. Then we went to Washington Monument State Park, where the summit of South Mountain and the monument were absolutely covered with the freakin' bugs! We were amused when we stopped in Middletown -- there's a pretty craft store there called the Snallygaster, named for a local legendary monster -- to discover that one of the scarecrows on display on the town's street corners was designed as Munch's The Scream covered in stinkbugs.

Paul's parents had never been to South Mountain Creamery and we figured they might enjoy it, so we stopped there and everyone was pleased to discover that they now have eggnog available in their shop. We got ice cream and went to visit the calf barn, which still has a visiting sheep and a sow with piglets -- this time the piglets were awake and tried to eat Adam's shoes. One of the girls whose family works on the farm was in the barn and she let us see some of the chicks and pet one of the piglets. By then we knew that both the Redskins and Ravens had come from behind to beat the Bears and Bills respectively, in both cases because the opposing quarterbacks decided to throw the ball to the wrong team (the Redskins' DeAngelo Hall picked off Jay Cutler four times including a 90+ yard run for a touchdown), so we didn't feel compelled to rush home for sports, though my in-laws left to get back for the end of the New England game. The rest of us went to Gathland State Park as the sun was beginning to set, so the sky was beautiful and there were lots of colorful leaves visible through the arch and around the ruins of the barn.

The city of Frederick from the overlook on the approach from I-270; it's hard to see the spires with the trees and grass in the way, but it's the reason for the poem above.

Our visit to the tea house at the top of High Knob in Gambrill State Park was interrupted... several thousand of these. Our first choice of a picnic table, the one with the great views of the valley, was absolutely covered by stinkbugs.

Quite a bit of fall color is brightening the hills around Middletown and Boonesboro, though the drought at the end of the summer has made it more brown than some years.

This is how the city of Middletown feels about the stinkbugs.

We also visited Washington Monument State Park, where the inside of the monument was playing host to untold thousands of bugs. Ladybugs migrate here as well, and there were hundreds of them on the outside.

This calf at South Mountain Creamery was born on Sunday morning, mere hours before we arrived.

And here is the War Correspondents' Arch at Gathland, built by George Alfred Townsend to honor his fellow Civil War reporters.

We had grilled cheese for dinner made from the cheddar, swiss, and colby we got at South Mountain Creamery, then watched the Green Bay-Minnesota game around Boardwalk Empire, which was too violent for my taste but I like how nonjudgmental it is of the choices women were often forced to make (I never expected the leading Temperance Union lady to pass on information about birth control to a woman living in circumstances other people are all too happy to use as an excuse to call her degrading names). I need someone to explain to me why it's fine for animal butcher Michael Vick to play for the Eagles but Brett Favre is in huge trouble for a bit of consensual dirty electronic interaction. With accused murderers in the NFL, I'm supposed to be upset about Favre's sex life? Give me a break!

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