The Indian system

Just about as prescient, and early, of a description of the California wildland fire and forest development problem as you will find:

As regards the growth of young timber—save only among the heavy redwood forests—the number of young trees which within the last decade or two has sprung up, is very great. All the open pine forests, back of the coast, are becoming rapidly stocked with young trees, and much of the open grazing land is rapidly being converted into brush or becoming covered with young saplings—generally Douglas spruce [Douglas-fir] or yellow [ponderosa] pine.

The cause of this increase is unquestionably the cessation of the old Indian practice (formerly general) of running fires through the country to keep it open to facilitate hunting, or in driving game before the flames into enclosures set with snares. Under this system about half the ground was burned over each year, in alternate halves; thereby the open lands were kept free of brush and all growth of young trees was checked in the forests. The older, well matured trees, however, suffered very little, as so little undergrowth could mature between one fire and another, that sufficient heat was not developed to hurt older trees, fairly covered with bark and with limbs some distance above the ground. In fact, the Indian system became in some sense a method of forest preservation, and to it we undoubtedly owe the noble forests which were transmitted to our hands.

We may acknowledge this debt to the red man, although his methods may no longer be available in a growing country studded if only sparsely with improvements. The Indian’s method may not have been an ideal one, but it was a better one in his day and generation than our lack of all method is in ours.

The very growth of young trees, left uncared for as at present, must be to those with the good of the forest at heart, a source of concern rather than of satisfaction. With forest fires running—often twenty in a county at one time—and public sentiment dormant to the extent that, save where individual property is at stake, few take the trouble to put out even such incipient fires as might be killed with little effort, there can be no question but that in the growth of young trees lies the certain guarantee of total extermination of much of our best forest land, within a few years, unless some effectual methods of protection are inaugurated.

Thirty years ago fires ran yearly through the woods, but forest conflagrations were unknown; the large trees standing sparsely scattered, say five to ten to the acre, were unable to transmit fire, and there was little on the ground to burn. Now thousands of young trees fill the open spaces, and a fire started not only destroys the young trees but the patriarchs of the forest also.

As yet the evil has attained no very serious proportions; but so surely as the young growth is permitted and fires not kept out entirely (which will be found a simply impossible matter) fires will occur, which will sweep everything in their path out of existence.

The longer the matter is left to find its own solution the more difficult and expensive of application remedial measures will become. As a means of protection against fires, one effectual method, and only one, suggests itself—the isolation of such forests as it may be deemed essential to preserve, into blocks of moderate area, separated by strips of waste land, wide enough to insure no spread of fire from one belt to another. This done, the forests may be left to grow up densely, if desired, without fear of extensive damage.

Topographical conditions would generally suggest the location of these waste strips. Ridge summits and canon bottoms (especially the former) are natural barriers to fire, being only crossed with difficulty by flames, when free of brush and litter. The lines of watershed on spurs are generally sparsely timbered, and could be easily maintained free of undergrowth, even if not denuded of their trees. As regards the strips which have been designated as waste, they might in many cases be capable of sodding or being maintained in grass, producing range and pasture, and for the rest, the authorized use of fire by duly commissioned persons, duly provided with adequate means of checking the spread of flames, might suggest itself as the simplest, cheapest, and most efficient method.

Of course these proposals only have reference to the public lands, private holdings must remain subject to private management, and such forests as now are held in private hands must survive or perish, as the owner elects. In any event, private holdings, when lying within the lines of districts which it might be wished to treat on the basis proposed, will always cause complication. If anything is to be done at all, it is time to do it now, while the Government owns whole districts free from settlers, and consequently, in this respect, at least, need have nothing but the public interest to consider.

First Biennial Report of the California State Board of Forestry, 1886-1888

“A systematic record of great biological value”

Paul Sears was an early plant ecologist who did a lot of good work at the University of Nebraska and previously at Ohio State, Nebraska being the nexus of American plant ecology in the early 20th century. He was I believe, the first president of the Ecological Society of America. He was also one of the very first ecologists–of what is now a legion–to estimate landscape scale forest taxonomic composition at pre-settlement time, using the bearing/witness tree record contained within the early federal land survey. Here he takes a humorous swipe at the geometric wisdom inherent in the survey design. Ya can’t put a rectangular grid on a round planet fer cryin’ out loud, but hey, thanks for recording all those trees! :)

Surveying of Ohio was begun in July, 1786, under The Geographer of the United States, Thomas Hutchins, employing for the first time his device of sections one mile square. This empirical device was hailed as a great American invention, although the State of Ohio has since been found to possess a curved surface in common with the rest of the earth. All corners which lay within the forest were located with reference to nearby trees, the species of which were noted. These corners becoming permanent, the net result of Hutchins’ plan has been the preservation of a systematic record of such great biological value as to redeem its geometrical shortcomings.

A little background might be useful. Ohio was the first state surveyed under the federal land survey, all previous states being surveyed in all manner of ways by various entities under various authorities and quality control procedures, i.e. without a comprehensive and systematic plan. By law enacted in 1785–the very first congress–a hugely important law affecting how the public domain would be disposed of, all states added to the country from that point forward were to be surveyed under a systematic, regular survey design with very specific instructions regarding how to proceed (Thomas Jefferson being a driving force behind this). Ohio, being the first such state added, in 1803, also served as the test state, where various survey designs were tried out before deciding on the one that, with minor modifications, has been followed the last 200 years in the 30 federal land survey states.

To my knowledge no other branch of ecology has the quality of historic data sets dating to +/- pre-settlement times, i.e. before all the heavy impacts occurred, and most certainly not over such an enormous geographic extent. In fact, I don’t think it’s even close. We’re very lucky in that regard, and we have people like Thomas Jefferson, with his sense of mathematical order and intense interest in all things natural and landscape, for it.

Sears, Paul B. 1925. The Natural Vegetation of Ohio: I, A Map of the Virgin Forest

‘Twas the Witch of November, come stealin’

It was forty years ago, November 10, 1975.

Captain McSorley lived right over on Bancroft Street just a few miles from us, near the university, but we had no idea until the newspaper told us. He was apparently intending to retire at the end of the season, just one month away, and was thus on one of his last trips. It turned out to be his very last.

I hadn’t even heard about the incident until I opened the paper the following day: there was the full story on the front page, with photographs of the seven guys from the area, about 25% of the crew of 29, including the Captain, who were now all missing and presumed dead. You can’t last long in 50 degree (F) water, that much less with hurricane strength winds raging around you in the middle of a black night in November, far from the shore.

The whole thing struck me as rather unbelievable. I mean, I can remember going out the few miles to one of the Lake Erie Islands as a Boy Scout when a kid. Somehow the trip had been scheduled at night, on a ferry with big open sides, and sure enough, there was a fierce wind that night. The boat was constantly plunging up and down with the waves that have made the lake a bit notorious and sent many a boat to the bottom, back in the day. Big washes of water and spray would come in through the holes, some kids were getting seasick and throwing up, and it was pitch dark. We were probably in no real danger but as a kid you don’t know that, and it may have been the first time I was actually scared for my life.

But this was a 700 foot ship, and it was 1975, not 1875.

The Edmund Fitzgerald unloading iron ore in Toledo Ohio.  Image courtesy

The Edmund Fitzgerald unloading iron ore in Toledo Ohio. Image courtesy

Nine years ago, Hultquist et al published an interesting study in which they ran a weather and wave model over the general area, driven by recorded observations during the event, for the 36 hours leading up to it. What they basically found was that the ship could not possibly have chosen a worse path across the lake than they did that day. They made a 90 degree right turn that put the ship partially broadside to maximum sustained winds from the west to northwest, of 65 knots (~ 75 mph, the lower edge of hurricane force, and gusting higher), and to significant waves of 7.5 m (~25 ft), potentially reaching as high as 14 m (46 ft). Another wave height model indicates such heights and directions were likely extremely rare historically.

Significantly, the weather/wave model indicated that the worst 1-hr conditions occurred exactly when the ship when down–between 7:00 and 8:00 PM, EST. At about 7:15 PM, the Fitzgerald simply disappeared from the radar screen of the Arthur M. Anderson, which had been trailing it by 10 miles, and guiding it by radio ever since the Fitzgerald’s radar went down. [The interesting back and forth between the Anderson‘s Captain and the Coast Guard, requesting him to go back out to search the area during the height of the storm, which he did, is here.]
Exactly what caused the Fitzgerald to go down so quickly is still a matter of some contention. It had to be immediate, since the ship had just been in radio contact with the Anderson but no SOS or distress call was ever issued. The leading theory seems to be that a particularly extreme wave lifted the stern, forcing down the bow. The ship was already listing and had lost buoyancy via large volumes of water taken into its cargo holds, full of iron ore, very possibly from ripping a hole in the hull by bottoming out on a shoal a few hours previously. This would have rocketed the ship to the bottom of the lake, which, being shallower than the ship was long, would have snapped it in two (as it was found), with the stern above the water.

Captain Cooper of the Anderson, describes his radio interactions with McSorley before the incident and his views of what happened. He says that as much as 12 feet of water were on their deck at times:

Tribute video based on Gordon Lightfoot’s famous ballad is here
NTSB official report of the incident is here
And another very interesting interview here

And all that remain, are the faces and the names
Of the wives, and the sons, and the daughters

Gordon Lightfoot, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Around Yosemite walls and through Yosemite forests

So, I’ve been entering bearing tree data collected by land surveyors inside what is now Yosemite National Park, for work on estimating historic forest conditions in the Sierra Nevada. Bearing trees were designed to “bear witness” to the location of on-the-ground survey markers, in case something should happen to them, and several pieces of information on them were recorded in the field notes (previous post here). So up comes the next Township on the list: Township 2 South, Range 21 East, Mt. Diablo Meridian, or T2SR21E MDM in surveyors’ shorthand, an area now inside YNP, surveyed under authority of the General Land Office (GLO) in 1880, 10 years before YNP came into existence.

An original (1880) YNP bearing tree, in 2005, with blaze partially exposed.

An original (1880) YNP bearing tree, in 2005, with blaze partially exposed.

Well, damned if that isn’t a pretty good place to run into the man, Clarence King, and thereby to slow down the scientific progress on which society so utterly depends. Once I start reading King’s writings it’s all over in terms of getting things done. He’s done it to me before, and he will do it again.

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Douglas’ “Multnomah pine”

Sugar Pine

…August 19, 1825 Mr. Douglas, who had been exploring the upper country of the Columbia, started from his headquarters at Vancouver to proceed southward, ascending the Multnomah towards the mountains at the extreme (south) end of the Willamette Valley. After a perilous three days’ trip he reaches the natives of the region and finds in their tobacco pouches “seeds of a remarkably large size, which they eat as nuts”, and which he knew to be pine seeds. He learns that the tree grows on the mountains to the south—that is, down nearly to the present California line.

“No time was to be lost,” he writes, “in ascertaining the existence of the tree,” which he at once, with only a few imperfect seeds in hand, names Pinus Lambertiana, in honor of his friend, Aylmer Bourke Lambert, the distinguished Vice-President of the Linnaean Society of England. But sickness and inclement weather, also Indian hostilities, prevented further search southward for that season. However, he explores other regions eastward, discovering two new species of pine, which he names Pinus nobilis and Pinus amabilis (now well known firs, but then included in the genus of pines), making headquarters for the winter at Fort Vancouver. During the spring and summer months of the next year, 1826, he makes various extensive journeys, rewarded constantly by important discoveries, for the country was all unknown then. In February a hunter brings him a cone of his Multnomah pine. It “was 16 inches long and 10 in circuit” and he was assured that “trees were met with that were 170-220 feet high, and 20-50 feet in circumference”.

In June, while at the junction of the Lewis and Clarke Rivers, he planned a long trip southward to the Umpqua River, in search of “the gigantic pine”, but could not get off in that direction until October. On the eighteenth Douglas, with a companion, “set off due south through the dominions of the Chief, Center-Nose, and having climbed wearily a high divide, we were cheered by the sight of the broad Umpqua River in the valley far below”. A raft was necessary for crossing it, and in its construction Douglas “grievous blistered his fingers”..October 23rd they reach the headwaters Of the Umpqua, guided by the son of old Center-Nose, and still “intent upon finding the Grand Pine so frequently mentioned in my journal”.

…Early in the morning of the same day (October 25th) Douglas quitted camp, and “after an hour’s walk met an Indian, who, on perceiving me, instantly strung his bow, then slung his raccoon skin of arrows upon his left arm, and stood on the defensive. Being quite sure that he was not hostile, but prompted by fear only, I laid my gun at my feet and beckoned him to approach me, which he did slowly and with many precautions. I then made him place his bow and quiver beside my gun, and, striking a light, gave him a smoke out of my pipe. Then with pencil and paper I drew a rough sketch of the cone and tree which I desired to find, and exhibited the sketch to him, when he quickly pointed towards the hills, fifteen or twenty miles distant, and southward.”

Hastening on, at midday Douglas “reached the locality of my longwished-for pines, and lost no time in examining them, and endeavoring to collect twigs, specimens, and seeds. “New and strange things,” Douglas pauses here to remark, sententiously, “seldom fail to make strong impressions, and are, therefore, often faulty or overrated; so, lest I should never again see my friends in England, to inform them verbally of this most beautiful and grand tree”.

“I shall here state the dimensions of the largest found among several that had been felled by the wind. At three feet from the ground its circuit was fifty-seven feet nine inches (that is, nearly nineteen feet in diameter). At one hundred and thirty-four feet it was seventeen feet five inches. Extreme length, two hundred and forty-five feet. The trunks are uncommonly straight, the bark smooth, the tallest stems unbranched for two thirds of their height, the branches outreaching or pendulous, with long cones hanging from the points like sugar loaves in a grocer shop. The cones are borne only by the largest trees, high suspended in air, and the putting myself into possession of three of them, all I could procure, nearly brought my life to a close.”

“As it was impossible either to climb the trees or to hew one down I resorted to knocking them off by firing at them with ball. The report of my gun almost instantly brought into view eight Indians, all armed with bows, bone-tipped spears, and flint knives. I endeavored to explain to them what I was doing there and what I wanted, and they seemed satisfied, sitting down to smoke with me; but presently I perceived one of them to string his bow, and another to whet his knife with a pair of wooden pincers. Further testimony of their intention was unnecessary.

“To save myself by flight was impossible, so without hesitation I sprang backwards about five paces, cocked my gun, drew one of the pistols from my belt, and showed myself determined to fight for my life. As much as possible I endeavored to preserve coolness, and thus we stood facing each other without the slightest movement or uttering a word for full ten minutes. At last the leader dropped his hand and made signs for tobacco and pipe. I signified that they should have a smoke if they would fetch me a quantity of cones. They went off immediately, and no sooner were the out of sight than I picked up my precious cones and made the quickest possible retreat.”

Poor Douglas never saw his “Grand Pine” again, and upon his second tour of western exploration the next season, after visiting Monterey Bay and vicinity, where he discovers Pinus insignia and P. sabiniana, he sailed for the Hawaiian Islands, and while exploring there he fell into a pit prepared for capturing wild cattle, and was trampled to death by an entrapped steer.


The Fire Next Time

A short and well-balanced summary of the drivers and repercussions of the present and future wildland fire problem in the western United States. Discussed using 2013’s Rim Fire as a focal point, the enormous and highly unnatural and destructive fire that burned through the Stanislaus National Forest and western Yosemite NP, including an area containing 20 long-term forest monitoring plots of mine. Found at Wildfire Today, which is a great site for all things fire, especially w.r.t. California.

The shake makers

The shake-makers can be found throughout the Sierras, generally a shiftless set who cannot bear the restraint and superintendence of manual labor in populated districts, preferring rather to lead a free and careless life in the mountain forests, working only when they feel so inclined or are pressed to it by want of food. Scenting out a Sugar pine as easily as a terrier does a rat, they visit every accessible district in the Sierras, and a pile of shakes is often the only visible sign that any human being resides in these mountain solitudes. They are often called, perhaps aptly, forest pirates; and as, from force of circumstances, they are compelled to prey entirely upon Government and State lands, they destroy considerable of our public sugar pine timber, especially as they fell about three times the number of trees that they make use of, often cutting down five or six before finding one suited to their purpose. Although this practice of making shakes is generally condemned, and is certainly illegal as carried on, it has become so established a custom that no one thinks of interfering, and as to lodging a complaint against a shake-maker, public opinion is against it; for, like the Irish, the American people hate an informer.

Biennial Report of the California State Board of Forestry for 1887-1888

Happier blue

I was sad and then I loved you–it took my breath
Now I think you love me–and it scares me to death
I lie awake and wonder, I worry, I think about losing you
I don’t care what you say, maybe I was happier blue

Justice is a lady, blind with her scale
But she got a big letter opener, and been readin’ my mail
I don’t know why that should shame me, but it does somehow
I don’t care what you say, she don’t look like a lady now

I believe in heavy thinking, believe in heavy sound
I believe in heavy images to hold it all down
I put it all together and it’s light as a feather in spite of me
I don’t care what you say, faith is not a guarantee

Did you think I didn’t know that?–you might be right
But I swear I will forget it if it takes all night
I never needed nothin’ like I needed knowin’ that I needed you
I don’t care what you say, none of this is nothin’ new

‘Cause I was sad, and then I loved you–it took my breath
Now I think you love me, and it scares me to death
I lie awake and wonder, I worry, I think about losin’ you
I don’t care what you say, maybe I was happier blue

Chris Smither

How not to do it

This is a long post. It analyzes a paper that recently appeared in Nature. It’s not highly technical but does get into some important analytical subtleties. I often don’t know where to start (or stop) with the critiques of science papers, or what good it will do anyway. But nobody ever really knows what good any given action will do, so here goes. The study topic involves climate change, but climate change is not the focus of either the study or this post. The issues are, rather, mainly ecological and statistical, set in a climate change situation. The study illustrates some serious, and diverse problems.

Before I get to it, a few points:

  1. The job of scientists, and science publishers, is to advance knowledge in a field
  2. The highest profile journals cover the widest range of topics. This gives them the largest and most varied readerships, and accordingly, the greatest responsibilities for getting things right, and for publishing things of the highest importance
  3. I criticize things because of the enormous deficit of critical commentary from scientists on published material, and the failures of peer review. The degree to which the scientific enterprise as a whole just ignores this issue is a very serious indictment upon it
  4. I do it here because I’ve already been down the road–twice in two high profile journals–of doing it through journals’ established procedures (i.e. the peer-reviewed “comment”); the investment of time and energy, given the returns, is just not worth it. I’m not wasting any more of my already limited time and energy playing by rules that don’t appear to me designed to actually resolve serious problems. Life, in the end, boils down to determining who you can and cannot trust and acting accordingly

For those without access to the paper, here are the basics. It’s a transplant study, in which perennial plants are transplanted into new environments to see how they’ll perform. Such studies have, at least, a 100 year history, dating to genetic studies by Bateson, the Carnegie Institute, and others. In this case, the authors focused on four forbs (broad leaved, non-woody plants), occurring in mid-elevation mountain meadows in the Swiss Alps. They wanted to explore the effects of new plant community compositions and T change, alone and together, on three fitness indicators: survival rate, biomass, and fraction flowering. They attempted to simulate having either (1) entire plant communities, or (2) just the four target species, experience sudden temperature (T) increases, by moving them downslope 600 meters. [Of course, a real T change in a montane environment would move responsive taxa up slope, not down.] More specifically, they wanted to know whether competition with new plant taxa–in a new community assemblage–would make any observed effects of T increases worse, relative to those experienced under competition with species they currently co-occur with.

Their Figure 1 illustrates the strategy:

Figure 1: Scenarios for the competition experienced by a focal alpine plant following climate warming. If the focal plant species (green) fails to migrate, it competes either with its current community (yellow) that also fails to migrate (scenario 1) or, at the other extreme, with a novel community (orange) that has migrated upwards from lower elevation (scenario 2). If the focal species migrates upwards to track climate, it competes either with its current community that has also migrated (scenario 3) or, at the other extreme, with a novel community (blue) that has persisted (scenario 4).

Figure 1: Scenarios for the competition experienced by a focal alpine plant following climate warming.
If the focal plant species (green) fails to migrate, it competes either with its current community (yellow) that also fails to migrate (scenario 1) or, at the other extreme, with a novel community (orange) that has migrated upwards from lower elevation (scenario 2). If the focal species migrates upwards to track climate, it competes either with its current community that has also migrated (scenario 3) or, at the other extreme, with a novel community (blue) that has persisted (scenario 4).

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They’re gonna miss me when I’m gone

I never thought that I’d be hanging around this damned old town
I always thought the world was flat so I just kinda hung around
I got a job–it ain’t much, but keeps my feet down on the ground

I was born here, I was raised here, so I’m bound to be appraised here after a while
Yeah I thought that I was real cool man–they missed me at my high school, by a mile
Everything I learned, I let it burn–with no return–in that old fire

Someday I’m gonna draw my own map honey
And I’m gonna nail it to the wall
Will chart my course, ‘n dream a lot and save my money
They’re gonna miss me when I’m gone
They gonna miss me when I’m gone

Man if I have to drive this truck around this square one more time I’m gonna bust
Man everybody follows everybody else around–some silly kind of trust
Well I’ve trusted destination long enough; if it rains a lot I’m gonna rust

Well everyone in town here tells everyone around here what to do
Man I just can’t go for that, I can’t stand for that when they do that, can you?
Well my best thinking’s kept me here, so I best find some kinda way to move

Someday I’m gonna draw my own map, honey
And I’m gonna nail it to the wall
Will chart my course, and dream a lot and save my money
They’re gonna miss me when I’m gone
They gonna miss me when I’m gone

Jeff Black’s original acoustic blues version
Sam Bush’s high octane (as usual) bluegrass/country version

Love the key changes in this song!

Every mother’s son

I speak to you, I think you understand you know
You made your son Joseph a dangerous man you know
He’s gone into town and bought himself a gun
This could happen to every mother’s son

I spoke to Joseph, his time has come
Vengeance is mine he said, come join the fun
He looked more like a Judas on the run
This could happen to every mother’s son

Since I spoke to Joseph, he’s gone into town
He killed six strong men ‘fore they shot him down
I hate to think it’s only just begun
This could happen to every mother’s son

Somethin’ to tell you I think you should know
You think too fast and you love too slow you know
You needn’t feel you’re the only one
This could happen to every mother’s son

Chris Smither, 1971

Gauley time!

Black cherry trees in ripe fruit and goldenrod in full bloom and that can only mean one thing, and no I’m not talking about football season.

They opened the Summerfield Dam gates at 7AM this morning; for godsake get down, or up, or over there in the next six weeks and try to kill yourself with all the others if you can. There will be a party, a rather large and extended one and it’s anybody’s guess at to whether river flow will exceed that of beer. Now, when on the river, try to remember, apriori if possible, that plastic (or rubber) side down is optimal, that rocks are typically fairly hard and to take a big gulp of air before you go under. Remembering these aposteriori is fairly automatic. Everything else is open to personal interpretation.

Best to put in downstream from the nozzle a bit, although I’m sure it’s been tried:
Gauley opentunnel

What made America great:
Gauley_pink dory at pillow rapid

This is probably sub-optimal form:

Definite sub-optimal form:
Gauley_poor form

This can be made to work for a while, like 12 seconds:
Gauley mattress

Really excellent form:
Gauley Boof


When our songs were just like prayer

I don’t spend a lot of time listening to new music or artists, but I do spend some, both for the enjoyment and to get cover material or inspiration for new songs. Every now and then one runs across someone or something truly special that you weren’t aware of; the following is a prime example. I highly recommend this guy.

Remember when our songs were just like prayer
Like gospel hymns that you called in the air
Come down, come down sweet reverence
Unto my simple house and ring… and ring

Ring like silver, ring like gold
Ring out those ghosts on the Ohio
Ring like clear day wedding bells
Were we the belly of the beast, or the sword that fell?
We’ll never tell

Come to me, clear and cold
On some sea
Watch the world spinning waves
Like that machine

Now I’ve been crazy, couldn’t you tell?
I threw stones at the stars, but the whole sky fell
Now I’m covered up in straw, belly up on the table
Well I drank and sang, and I passed in the stable

That tall grass grows high and brown
Well I dragged you straight in the muddy ground
And you sent me back to where I roam
Well I cursed and I cried, but now I know
Now I know

And I ran back to that hollow again
The moon was just a sliver back then
And I ached for my heart like some tin man
When it came, oh it beat and it boiled and it rang
Oh, it’s ringing

Ring like crazy, ring like hell
Turn me back into that wild haired gale
Ring like silver, ring like gold
Turn these diamonds straight back into coal
Turn these diamonds straight back into coal

The Stable Song, Gregory Alan Isakov

Way over yonder in the minor key

I lived in a place called Okfuskee
And I had a little girl in a holler tree
I said, little girl, it’s plain to see,
There ain’t nobody that can sing like me

She said it’s hard for me to see
How one little boy got so ugly
Yes, my luttle girly, that might be
But there ain’t nobody that can sing like me

Ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Way over yonder in the minor key
Way over yonder in the minor key
There ain’t nobody that can sing like me

We walked down by the Buckeye Creek
To see the frog eat the goggle eye bee
To hear that west wind whistle to the east
There ain’t nobody that can sing like me

Oh my little girly will you let me see
Way over yonder where the wind blows free
Nobody can see in our holler tree
And there ain’t nobody that can sing like me

Her mama cut a switch from a cherry tree
And laid it on the she and me
It stung lots worse than a hive of bees
But there ain’t nobody that can sing like me

Now I have walked a long long ways
And I still look back to my tanglewood days
I’ve led lots of girls since then to stray
Saying, ain’t nobody that can sing like me.

Woody Guthrie, Billy Bragg

Railroad Earth
Dave Carter and Tracey Grammer
Justin here will show you how to play it if interested, but it’s all G,C,D and Em.