Monday, March 21, 2011

Thinking of Springs

Updated blog post on springs on my new blog

Springs have always been special places in many parts of the world.  While hiking with my family my dad would point out the mud bubbling up just below the surface of lakes we used to frequent.  He explained that it was water coming up from below the ground and it was always cold.  I remember watching it as if in a trance.  Springs have been a place where my mind became quiet, without thought.  I don’t know why but I sense some power there that deserves reverence. 

It was no surprise when I learned that the local Native Americans believed there were spirits inhabiting springs and they gave them offerings.  There were several springs around the Winnebago system that were “discovered” in the 1800’s and looted for the treasure of offerings and human remains.  These sacred places were flooded after the construction of dams in Neenah and Menasha, and are now lost.  According to Historic Lake Poygan by Charles H. Velte, many relics were taken from the Freer Spring on the North Shore of Lake Poygan, the spring was taken from us by the dams.  Many specimens were lost but one collection contains: “Large bone fish spear with three barbs, bone celt, 24 bone daggers, 40 three-bone awls, one flaker, 50 bear tusks, several bear skulls, many deer horns, 1 copper fish spear and 2 broken gorgets:  125 perfect pieces” One spring that yielded human remains and many artifacts was only big enough to dip a pail in.

While snowshoeing I came upon this little creek running through a swamp clear and warm enough to burn through snow and ice as the temperature stayed below zero for days, another special trait of springs.  I followed the creek to its source, a little spring welling up at the base of a hill.  There the tracks of red squirrel, cotton tail rabbit and white-tailed deer converge to drink.   I’m guessing by its shape and the rock wall holding back the earth on one side that its basin was widened to provide fresh water for cattle that have been absent from this hillside for decades.  Water gushes out from a space between the rocks.  It might be a creation of a farmer for all I know, but I am quiet as I set up the tripod, compose a photo and take a picture.  I make no offering, but leave quietly.


  1. Really like this one : )

  2. Update. I wondered if this spring was man-made at the time I wrote this. Today I looked at the original survey records from 1839. The spring was present then, before settlement.