Friday, March 2, 2012
The Haw Fields
Haw Fields lying between the Haw and Eno Rivers, was a 50,000 acre cleared meadow once used by Native Americans as a hunting field. They burned it off a couple of times each year so that there favored game animals would come there to feed on the resulting grass shoots. All that slash and burn attention meant the land was both relatively unwooded, and had rich top soils resulting from both the burning and the manuring of the grazing herds of deer and buffalo and maybe even elk. After harvesting their summer crops, native folks probably moved up, away from the foggy, cold corn-bottoms to their hunting grounds. There as hunters harvested hides and laid in venison for jerky, the ladies harvested the rich, oak mast; they mashed and dried acorn flower for the coming seasons. The first Europeans who saw the Haw Fields probably thought they'd died and gone to heaven. John Lawson waxed euphoric about that land in his 1709 real estate prospectus, New Voyage to Carolina.