I learned the truth about The Buckthorn Man in Marlin Johnson’s research papers. By the time I started blogging at the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail website, a fog had drifted over the mind of The Buckthorn Man and he began playing fast and loose with the facts regarding when he started cutting buckthorn. Maybe it wasn’t a fog, rather, it was just me giving into the temptation to inflate my reputation. After all, cutting buckthorn for 20 years is more impressive than a mere 15, isn’t it? Well, I had talked myself into 20 years and now I’m setting the record straight.
Marlin loaned me his research papers and documentation related to his role in the development and configuration of the Hartland Marsh into it’s current state, and I am scanning them and plan to publish the interesting items here. Reviewing the papers related to his forming the Friends of the Hartland Marsh, this one got my attention:
There it is: one of the earliest signup sheets in Marlin’s records for workdays on the John Muir Island (the first was February 6, 2000) and Paul Mozina and John Mesching were there. How do I know that was the first time The Buckthorn Man used a chainsaw? I distinctly remember John Mesching and I both popped the chains off our saws at the same time and — together — we figured out how to put them back on. John was a chainsaw rookie too and he said at the time: “There, now you know as much about chainsaws as I do”. And there is the corroborating evidence in Marlin’s notes from the first meeting of the Friends of the Hartland Marsh, which took place on July 15, 2000 at the Cottonwood Wayside, in which he said:
July 15, 2000 is going to be a historic day: It will go down in local history as the first meeting of the Friends of Hartland Marsh AND you will be known as a charter member!
I personally am taking on a project on the island. Restoring it to its former condition at time of settlement; Oak Opening or Oak Savanna. Large oak trees still exist on the island but brush has invaded and shaded out the prairie grasses and wildflowers. I want to restore the oak savanna by removing the brush and planting prairie seeds. 375 volunteer hours have already gone into cutting and piling brush. Still work to be done.
There you have it — The Buckthorn Man is a bullshitter. On July 15, 2000 Marlin was referring to the work done since February 6, 2000 — the first of many workdays he coordinated on the John Muir Island. That means I’ve been cutting buckthorn for 15 years, not 20! I hope you will forgive me for falsely puffing up my reputation. Although certainly not as dramatic a context as the one to which Patrick Henry refers to in this quote, it’s a good excuse to repeat his famous line:
For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and provide for it.
The Buckthorn Man could never fill Marlin’s shoes, but I am humbly going to try to bring the Friends of the Hartland Marsh back to life. I have printed a new version of the Friends brochure and distributed them at the trailhead on Cottonwood Ave., and I plan on scheduling some meetings, either at one of the Village’s community meeting rooms or, following in the historic tradition of Marlin Johnson, at the Cottonwood wayside. Marlin has lists of approximately 100 friends who I will be contacting to see if they are still interested in The Marsh. Please do contact me if you want to be included in the Friends of the Hartland Marsh. And checkout my new Friends page on this site.
Our friends at Integrative Restorations, LLC have been hard at work at The Marsh and they did some very nice clearing and brush piling in the area marked in blue on the map below. They were not able to burn the piles because of the lack of snow cover.
I am healed up nicely from surgery for Dupuytren’s Contracture.
I’m very happy to get back to work and did some brush clearing at The Marsh last Sunday in the little area marked in red on the map above. Here are before and after shots:
And, I got out to The Springs yesterday to harvest some black locust firewood for my friend Scott.
See you at The Marsh!