Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/441

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427
POPULAR MISCELLANY

perseded. The power of photography to portray the nebulæ has been thoroughly demonstrated. The art has been applied to the observation of comets, and may yet be brought into play for the paths of meteors, the discovery of new planets, and other purposes now hardly thought of. After remaining nearly stationary for years, "at a bound it has gone far beyond anything that was expected of it, and bids fair to overturn a good deal of the practice that has hitherto existed among astronomers."

 

Indian Villages in New York.—In his American Association paper on "Aboriginal Villages in New York State," Dr. W. M. Beauchamp traversed the famous theories of Mr. Lewis II. Morgan of the "long houses" of the Iroquois. In the highlands, he said, forts were commonly long and narrow, often two or three times as long as wide, and usually with the houses in the narrow part, leaving the wider portion for public uses and games. The long house was not peculiar to the Iroquois, nor prominent among them, and facts in this matter have yielded to theories. Greenhalgh noticed these large lodges in only one town, and Morgan's estimate would give that town five times the whole Seneca population. The traveler's account gave but an average of two or three warriors to a lodge throughout the five nations. The form of the forts often afforded but little room for long houses, especially in those examined by the author. Among the Iroquois they do not prove communal life. Early writers often refer to ownership of fields, and Sir William Johnson said that every nation and tribe had its own district and well-known portion of land.

 

Trees for Plantation around Houses.—Dr. Charles Roberts, considering the subject from the sanitary point of view, advises that while belts of trees maybe planted on the northern and eastern aspects of houses, on the east side the trees should not be so near nor so high as to keep the morning sun from the bedroom windows in the shorter days. On the southern and western aspects of the house isolated trees only should be permitted, so that there may be free access of the sunshine and the west winds to the house and grounds. Pine trees are the best of all trees to plant near the house, as they collect the greatest amount of rainfall, and permit the freest evaporation from the ground. Acacias, oaks, and birches are late to burst into leaf, and therefore allow the ground to be warmed by the sun's rays in early spring. The elm, lime, and chestnut are the least desirable trees to plant near houses, although they are the most common. They both come into leaf and cast their leaves early, so that they exclude the spring sun and do not afford much shade in the hot autumn months, when it is most required. Trees are often useful guides to the selection of residences. Numerous trees with rich foliage and a rank growth of ferns or moss indicate a damp, stagnant atmosphere; while abundance of flowers and fruit imply a dry, sunny climate. Pines and birches indicate a dry, rocky, sandy, or gravelly soil; beeches, a dryish, chalky, or gravelly soil; elms and limes, a rich and somewhat damp soil; oaks and ashes, a heavy clay soil; and poplars and willows, a low, damp, or marshy soil. Many of these trees are found growing together, and it is only when one species predominates in number and vigor that it is truly characteristic of the soil and that part of the atmosphere in connection with it.

 

The Cross Timbers of Texas.—The "Cross Timbers" of Texas are two long and narrow strips of forest region between the ninety-sixth and ninety-ninth meridians, extending parallel to each other from the Indian Territory southward to the central portion of the State, and forming a marked exception to the usual prairie features of the country. They are about fifteen miles wide, and fifty miles apart, and are separated by a timberless prairie region. Both are lower in level than the country through which they extend. The western strip, because it is higher in position, though geologically lower, is called the upper, and the eastern strip the lower cross timber. The soil in both is sandy, but that of the eastern strip is less siliceous, with some iron, is considerably more fertile than that of the western, and shows corresponding differences in its vegetation. Various theories have been proposed to account for the existence of these woodlands—among them, that they