Friday, January 31, 2014

Our Dirty Little Secret

We have a beautiful little trail loop that is right near the nature center called the Bluebird Trail.  It is very clean, full of interesting animal tracks, birds, lots of trees, deer, and more.  At at the far end of the trail loop, there is a gate that leads out to a much more extensive network of trails...more than 20 miles of trail in fact!
These trails offer a wonderful opportunity for people who would like to escape further into nature, be more physical, and maybe even find respite along the shores of Grapevine Lake.

These happen to be my favorite trails...except for one little thing...

Our Dirty Little Secret.

Okay, okay...some of you have visited the nature center, hiked our trails,  and have seen what I am about to expose here.  Some refer to this site as a piece of history.  While there is an interesting story as to where this all came's time to do better.  

A long-time BJNC devotee shared the story of the jars with me a few weeks ago.  So I would like to tell it here...and then,

it's time to restore nature as it should be!

Jars Upon Jars

My guess is that the people who originally put these jars here, did not revere them in anyway.  It was simply a sign of the times and a matter of convenience.  Many years ago, the land that is now a nature preserve, was actually a hog farm.  If you come to see us, you can see many leftover glimpses of the past such as a retention pond once used for livestock, old fencing that used to keep the animals contained, and even the bermuda grass are all relics from another era.

Dilapidated Fencing
Our mission at Bob Jones Nature Center is to preserve both the environment and history and to educate the community on matters of conservation.  Sometimes there can be a blurry line between what constitutes as a historical site and what is simply an old garbage heap with a story worth mentioning.

So the story?  Apparently, when this was used as a hog farm, those that tended the hogs found a great free food resource to sustain their animals.  Namely...expired spaghetti sold in jars.  At this spot in the woods, the jars were unloaded, unscrewed, and dumped out as slop for the hogs to eat.  At the time, there was no dump, and in fact many people would simply haul their refuse into the woods and dump it.  Many of us remember that time.

The time when we thought that garbage thrown out a car window or left in the street would somehow magically disappear?  Yup, I remember that.  Or the thought that garbage dumped in the woods far away... was so far out there that no one would ever see it and the wildlife hardly came to mind.  It was simply a sign of the times.

Do you think they really meant for us to revere this site?

More and more people hike these trails every day.  Our children walk past these jars and must wonder why we have not spent the time to clean it up...return it to nature...return it to beauty..and all that is safe.

Well, now it's time.

Bob Jones and his family did leave an indelible mark on the community.  Bob Jones donated land and built a school for African American children who lived in the area in 1920.  He built a church in 1902 very near here. The family owned a cafe that welcomed everyone, whether black or white, to come sit at the counter and eat with dignity.

These are important milestones and significant events that happened in our history.  Let's not allow a huge field of spaghetti jars to overshadow the real history here.  

To read more about Bob Jones and his family, click here.

To join our volunteer crew to clean up the jars....

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