Sunday, February 14, 2010
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Last fall when I was searching for old foundations I came upon something beautifully odd and hidden. Some of what I found was unremarkable for where I was but the rest was completely beyond any of my expectations.
Jones Woods lies two short blocks from the back of my house. Franklin Avenue seems to have been where the driveway to Shipley Jone's estate was. On many weekends in my childhood I had heard dirtbikes ripping around on the hills hidden from view behind the dense woods covering them.
I had never actually gone up into Jones Woods and last fall after dropping the luminous Mrs. V off at work I figured I'd take a quick look. I drove up to the top of Franklin Avenue and parked at where the road ended and the entrance to the woods began.
As I walked along the trail into the woods the bits of pavement from the old driveway peeked out from under the dirt and weeds. Only a short walk from the end of the street I came upon the first wrecked car.
Finding a wrecked car in wooded property on Staten Island isn't a surprise. The woods between Howard Avenue and Van Duzer Street used to be filled with abandoned stolen cars. I've always assumed they were stolen and dumped for the insurance.
What was odd about this car was what had been done to it.
It had been painted green. Soon I came across several more cars and small trucks in various states of ruination and all painted green.
Then I came across something odder. Deeper into the woods, off the trail I came upon a series of constructions made from tree limbs.
Some of these constructions were over six feet high. They were arranged between trees as well as freestanding. For a few moments I suspected I had wandered into some impressive, secret art project. Looking around I also saw nets with branches and leaves woven into them strung between trees . Maybe I had wandered into something like Karl Edward Wagner's story "Sticks". That thought creeped me out a smidge.
And then I discovered what I had discovered hidden a few hundred feet from my house. Covering portions of several trees and boulders were the multicolored splatters from paintball gun pellets.
I can't judge if the barriers and nets are of recent construction. They might have been put up years ago and left there when the players got bored and moved onto something else. Or, hopefully, not. Maybe on a warm spring Saturday afternoon if I listen carefully I'll hear the sound of air expelled pellets and the shouts of people in goggles and camouflage hunting each other on the hills.
View to towards the northeast from atop Jones Woods hill.
I didn't find any foundation remnants but I haven't given up hope. When the weather improves I'll head into the woods again.