A Week On The Concord And Merrimack Rivers By Henry David Thoreau

 -   Thirty or forty years ago, as
we were told, it was a sheep-pasture, but the sheep, being
worried by - Page 210
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Thirty Or Forty Years Ago, As We Were Told, It Was A Sheep-Pasture, But The Sheep, Being Worried By The Fleas, Began To Paw The Ground, Till They Broke The Sod, And So The Sand Began To Blow, Till Now It Had Extended Over Forty Or Fifty Acres.

This evil might easily have been remedied, at first, by spreading birches with their leaves on over the sand, and fastening them down with stakes, to break the wind.

The fleas bit the sheep, and the sheep bit the ground, and the sore had spread to this extent. It is astonishing what a great sore a little scratch breedeth. Who knows but Sahara, where caravans and cities are buried, began with the bite of an African flea? This poor globe, how it must itch in many places! Will no god be kind enough to spread a salve of birches over its sores? Here too we noticed where the Indians had gathered a heap of stones, perhaps for their council-fire, which, by their weight having prevented the sand under them from blowing away, were left on the summit of a mound. They told us that arrow-heads, and also bullets of lead and iron, had been found here. We noticed several other sandy tracts in our voyage; and the course of the Merrimack can be traced from the nearest mountain by its yellow sandbanks, though the river itself is for the most part invisible. Lawsuits, as we hear, have in some cases grown out of these causes. Railroads have been made through certain irritable districts, breaking their sod, and so have set the sand to blowing, till it has converted fertile farms into deserts, and the company has had to pay the damages.

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