A Short Laugh…

SUBMITTED August 2014
BY Old Shadows


Surfing possibilities for Homes of Brown,  the name Capability Brown popped up.  But ‘England/1700’s’ made it dismissible … except for that curious name… a positive-thinking mother?  So I read more.  Turns out that mom issued a Lancelot.  Then Lancelot-the-gardener became ‘Capability’ the  Landscape Architect.  And what else I found is applicable to The Chase.

Capability revolutionized  the GREAT HOMES of Europe , the Downton Abbeys,  replacing their fussy, labor intense formal gardens of geometric hedges, quirky fountains,  gazebos, etc. (think Versailles) with sweeping vistas of open space, natural shaped ponds, and aesthetically placed copses of trees.  Bet you thought it was always that way considering all the oil paintings of Country Estates we’ve all seen.

Now, Capability employed a particularly useful earth structure that allowed for unobstructed views from the tea terraces, yet kept the deer & cattle out of the gardens, and cow pies off the croquet courts.  He employed a special kind of a WALL that likewise had earned a unique name, the ‘HA HA WALL’.   Yes, look it up.    I thought Ha Ha walls might serve American cattle barons as well as European gentry, and, Mr. Fenn did laugh after he placed that treasure box.

Researching was not easy.  I expected to find Ha Ha’s protecting grand old ranch homes, or perhaps institutions, or small settlements from roaming cattle. Ha Ha’s had been used in Europe to keep the insane from wandering off the asylums.  But I couldn’t find any in America, until I came across a proposal by a modern-day Colorado landscape architect for a large public park with a deer park, a Ha Ha wall, and an educational boardwalk that served as a pedestrian overlook to the “Western Front”.  It’s quite a wonderful plan.

Visitors would stroll down the boardwalk, look across the Ha Ha, safe from antlers, and view without obstruction the eastern face of the Rockies some 10+ miles away.  AND, while strolling down the boardwalk, also travel down a geologic time-canyon.  The boardwalk would have a series of grooves, one every 8”, marking the years of evolutionary time in the Rockies.  Fossils and words would be molded into the walk at their appropriate era.  So, one could take a “canyon down, not far, but too far to walk”.  I liked it. I’d bring the kids.

I imagined some particular fossil or year, or seasonal light ray might be the blaze, where, if you’re wise, you’d step off the boardwalk, go over to the Ha Ha and look down for the treasure.

I don’t know if the park, the boardwalk, the Ha Ha, the deer park, ever materialized.  I can’t get there and my Google Earth is not clear about it.  It would be easy to assign other proposed park features to other Chase clues.  But I won’t because there is a fatal flaw.  The Cache de Poudre River (suggestively meaning ‘hide the gunpowder’) and the Fort Collins Welcome Center at I-25 and Prospect Rd, just don’t measure up.   The Where has about a 150’ alt-halt problem.

view my source
See pages 28-37

So, I’m on to solve #3, with confidence.  Again.

16 thoughts on “A Short Laugh…

  1. I like this post. I had always thought of the ha-ha as also having a ha-ha gate–separating the pastures from the lawns–kind of like the revolving door in hotels and department stores. It was meant to keep the sheep in the pasture and off of the lawn but to give the fine folks from the Big House the ability to go through the gate (on their way to the river to fish, the creek to wade or the lake to swim). The *wall*, in the case of the plantations that Thomas Jefferson designed, was a deep ditch that, during rainy times, held water so the animals could not pass.

  2. Brown is the most glaringly clear clue of al three of my solutions I just need to finalize my new career move before we can drive out to search.

  3. That is very cool, Old Shadows. I seem to recall ancient inhabitants of North America – the Hopewell and Adena mound builder cultures – employing a similar technique to a Ha Ha Wall. They would dig a deep ditch and pile the earth up on one side. They would then build a high fence wall on top of the piled-up earth. It was obviously done as a means of defense since it’s obvious we as humans have had a long history of killing each other…or, at least, laughing smugly when others deemed “lesser” than ourselves get hurt.


    “It is not the mountain we conquer…but ourselves.” I put a little twist on Sir Edmund Hillary’s quote. Edmund Hillary seems to get the majority of the credit for being first to climb Everest, but he accomplished it with Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay and likely never would have without him. How much credit does Tenzing get “as a percentage” in the history books? It’s just something to think about.

    Similarly, how much attention has been given to Custer as compared to what happened at Wounded Knee? I don’t think anyone can argue against the fact that what is taught as “history” is controlled by those who write the history books. The truth is always nice. Sorry if I sidetracked the “Ha Ha” discussion.

  4. Whoa! I didn’t see this Searcher of the Month story coming! I like it due to its unconventional and awkward delivery. I tend to enjoy quirky.

  5. I was reading on the ha-ha wall, then subsequently on the deer-leap or saltatorium) when I got across this page:

    … where I found this:
    “The actual method and ethos of early hunting was all targeted in killing deer for food, in later years the emphasis changed to the thrill of the chase.”

    Probably a coincidence… still a laugh.

  6. I have seen terracing at Machu Piichu but it was to grow potatoes or such . But the view my heavens the view. oh yeah all for potatoes…. ha ha

  7. very wise concept…This ” ha ha ” wall could be used in a number of different situations. Alot of good information….. ” ha ha ” – bet this is what Forrest thinking lately……

    • Hello arkansas hopeful. It has been nearly 1 1/2 years since your post and I believe I can safely say Mr. Fenn continues to have many “ha ha” moments with us and at us. 🙂

      • Hello Old Shadows. I’ve watched over time what you’ve had to say and you’ve had good thoughts. It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen a post from you. Hope you’re at least lurking and continue to have the thrill of the chase.

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