Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ode to Bois D'Arc

Interpretive Sign Along Harris Creek Trail
Twelve interpretive signs were installed along the new loop of Harris Creek Trail at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge  in late April.  Shown above is just one of the signs that add to appreciation and understanding of the habitat and wildlife there.  Several years ago this poem by Don Mathis of Sherman, Texas, was submitted to the Friends, and seems appropriate to publish along with this particular sign:

The Osage Orange is a lowly tree.
French explorers called this wood 'bo dark.'
Natives of the 16th century
used many parts of the wood and bark.

This 'wood of the bow' served well in war.
Bows and war clubs were used on the Plains.
Tannin from bark could help cure leather.
Ropes were twisted for use or exchange.

Dye from the roots yielded a yellow.
It's used to make uniforms khaki.
And it was a creative fellow
who used it for fence in the prairie.

'A hedgerow of bois d'arc was bull-strong,
horse-high, and pig-tight,' old experts said.
Horse Apple fence posts also last long.
The wood is even good for the dead.

Grave markers, gates, and parts for machines,
foundations, wheel rims, and rail-road ties,
were made from the hardest wood ere seen.
It's essence repels mildew and flies.

But like the tree of evil and good,
there's a shady side to the Hedge Ball.
If you try to burn it as fire wood,
wild sparks will fly to directions all!

A tougher, thornier, more tangled
specimen of cantankerousness,
odd grains that grow twisted and angled,
does not exist in the wilderness.

Try to prune bois d'arc limbs if you please,
the branches will bend with your chain saw.
Board Ark lumber splits and cracks with ease.
The toughest wood west of Arkansas.

Thorns adorn this arboreal quirk.
Itchy inch-long spikes will shame barb-wire.
They tried paving streets but it didn't work.
It floats in flood and is fuel for fire.

But like the natives of the Blackland,
the versatile qualities shine through.
Bois d'arc roots grow in clay, loam or sand.
And we're bodacious in all we do!

Don Mathis
Sherman, TX

1 comment:

  1. Bois d Arc is an intergral part of the Fry family. My grandfather, from Paris walked the 4 directions of the compass the same day each week.
    All the farmers and ranchers knew so and cut Bois d Arc logs and delivered them to the various sidings around Paris. My grandfather paid them for the logs and when he got enough to fill a car he ordered it and shipped the logs to a mill.
    He left Paris in 1900 for Oklahoma where he purchased a mill and sawed Bois d Arc.