Cellphone snap of two pine trees, looking just as cold as me.
It’s black & white, but this is the time of year I really appreciate pines, for a bit of green.
Evergreens, when it’s ever snowy, ever gray skies, ever blue fingers, ever red noses.
When the autumn leaves had all fallen, I began leafing through old photos.
And…here’s a random closeup.
Not a thing of beauty, but just kinda interesting. Can you guess what it is?
(I show the answer in just a minute.)
This fall, turning over a garden bed (but not a new leaf), this odd stratified object was unearthed. It looked pretty ancient, but isn’t – based on a couple minutes of research on the manufacturer’s stamp, it was made sometime after 1929. Because it’s stainless steel, I think these veins and patterns are some sort of mineral deposits on the surface, rather than corrosion, but basically just thought it looked kinda interesting. Some sort of tiny electro-chemical mystery, transpiring down there in the dark substratum beneath the innocent-looking cabbages.
Here’s some other archaeological treasures from the garden:
An old medicine bottom, fragments of china, stoneware, and glass. I think the metal ornament isn’t a toy, but a kind of hood ornament – we’ve never had a snowmobile, but one of our neighbors enjoys fixing up vintage Ski-Doos, and sometimes rides around the neighborhood, so that probably explains that.
Here’s another picture of the strata:
Yes, an old spoon. Who would dare say, we don’t have an exciting time of it in my hometown.
When I was a kid, I was excited to dig up a couple of horseshoes. Although it was sad to think of some horse years ago, limping around, or left jacked up on blocks by shoe thieves.
But the artifacts turned out to be stragglers from the lawn game, not actually from shoeless horses. (Un-shod horses? De-shodded? Slipshod? Shoe-eschewing?)
Yes, people still play horseshoes in my town, and the previous residents of our house had installed lighted, sand-filled pits in the backyard. I did wonder, since they had this opportunity to practice whenever they wanted, why I found the horseshoes buried in a flower bed twenty feet away. Excess enthusiasm, I guess, or evidence of some long-forgotten domestic tiff? And I also wondered, if a pit is filled up with sand or sawdust, is it still a pit? You have time to contemplate such deep thoughts, while you’re throwing pieces of metal at a stick.
There have been people living in this house for 150 years or so, all of them pretty steadily dropping things in the yard. My dad’s thing is coffee cups, left half-full in odd places – behind some tomato cages, in the crook of a tree, under the pole beans – we usually harvest them all during the fall cleanup, but probably a few have ended up sinking beneath the sod. Kind of a mug’s game, and some future generation will find all these ceremonial chalices, and be wondering, who exactly was this nameless World’s Best Dad.
An old lady used to live across the street. Mrs. Z told me her uncle and aunt lived in our house, in the ’20’s, when there was still a barn, chicken coop, and grape arbor – all of those long-vanished – and that explains the rusty plowshare, bits of chain, etc. I sometimes dig up.
So – getting close to New Year’s – – out with the old, and in with the new.
But instead of throwing this stuff in the trash, I’m going to (if the ground isn’t frozen too hard!) find a spot at the base of a maple tree, and bury these fragments of history, for some kid to find in the future.
I’ll throw something into the treasure trove, too.
Trying to decide between a fork, a subway token, or a Jabba the Hutt figurine.
Heck, all of the above, I’ll just dig a bigger hole.
“…after the second sexton’s disappearance, in 1908, the burial ground fell into disuse, and was slowly smothered by undergrowth.”
The first shot is from the Beddoe-Rose Cemetery, which in real life, is a bit battered by the years, and probably falling tree limbs, but isn’t spooky in the slightest. It was a burial plot for two families, that began farming along Keuka Lake after the Revolution, and dates back to 1815. The last burial was over a hundred years ago, and about seventy years ago, the state purchased the land for a park. The farmhouse was torn down, and the little hillock is now surrounded by woods.
The scratches on the sign board, from a state forest near Naples, NY, are just rust or something.
And not blood-stained claw marks.
Looking for these shots, however, I did find some genuinely scary stuff:
Portapotties, chemical toilets, whatever you call them, these things make your blood run cold. Some time this century, we need to gather all the villagers, with pitchforks and torches, and chase these horrors from our public places and gatherings. They’re like little plastic museums of the Dark Ages. We’re a couple centuries overdue for well-ventilated, self-cleansing versions. Public parks should have public restrooms, why do we allow ourselves to be
inconvenienced, wait, discommoded in this way?
Two old-time horrors in this shot.
On the top left, a wreath made of hair. Indescribably creepy.
And in front, in all its splendiferous horribleness, is an 1862 “half-mourning” dress.
The Civil War was bad enough, without this kind of assault.
Imagine some poor vet, having survived Antietam and Gettysburg, limping home from Appomattox, his brain teeming with battlefield horrors, running into this thing. Hadn’t he suffered enough?
Maybe this dress is a widow’s expression of pent-up rage, over Victorian strictures – some book of etiquette specified a schedule, when it was deemed seemly to only be half-sad about someone’s death. And this widow took her revenge, with this lilac & black attack.
Who the heck would give creepy coin banks like this, to a kid??
When your name is Dillman, I guess it’s natural to take an interest in pickling. Back in my hometown, in 1902, the Dillman brothers founded this company, which perfumed the area for many years. Seriously, Kraut Juice?? I just know, that if this health drink was still around when I was a kid, my parents would’ve made me drink it.
A Seneca headdress, as you probably know, did not remotely resemble this “Plains Warbonnet” on the label.
Bonus Ghost Story
Well, here’s a short ghost story, of sorts. It’s been told to me by my dad, many times. Many times. Many times.
On the wall of my bedroom, in my parents’ home, hang four old swords. One is a Civil War non-com’s, and was given to my father when he was a boy.
A little while after it was given to him, he walked up to the hardware store, bought some fancy brass hooks, and hung the sword on his bedroom wall. Even though my grandmother had told to not do that, because it might fall off somehow, during the night, and stab him. Once it was hung, he then went downstairs, to feed the dog, a large, very sweet Newfoundland.
The dog, as soon as he was in the house, ignored his dinner, and ran upstairs, which was very unusual, since he was always hungry, and knew he wasn’t allowed in the bedrooms. He then stood in the doorway of my dad’s bedroom, and began to bark and growl.
Now, my dad says, that dog only growled four times in his entire life. The other three times, he’d taken a dislike to the UPS van. Otherwise, and this dog lived nearly twice the typical lifespan for that breed, he simply never growled. He was a big dog, 150 pounds, and when he growled, it was impressive. It scared the living crap out of the UPS man, and he stopped driving up to the house, and often just hung the parcels on the mailbox by the street.
But that afternoon, the dog stood in the doorway, looking into the bedroom and growled and growled.
My father, with complete composure, acted quickly and decisively, the way he always does in these situations.
He ran outside.
The dog followed, and together, they sat on the front lawn, until it started to get dark, and the folks came home to make dinner. At the time, neither of them said anything about the growling to my grandparents.
Now, it’s possible there was a bat in the room. It wouldn’t be the first time – my father often left the screens open, so he could throw things out the window, fiddle with the wire antenna to his radio, which he’d strung out to a fencepost, or shoot his BB gun at tin cans on the driveway, even though he’d promised never to load the gun inside the house. But he says, the screen was closed, and he didn’t see any bats. He believes it was something to do with hanging up that sword.
Now it’s been on my bedroom wall for quite a while, and nothing’s happened, so far.
This old Beetle has been rusticating in a back field so long, a tree is growing out of it.
Just for fun, below is a “Woodstock Reunion” version.
A cellphone snap from a walk around the College of Agriculture at Cornell.
A considerable campus, covering over 800 acres, with its pastures, greenhouses, labs, test plots, arboretum, etc.
so I was glad to see a map on the wall of an old barn.
It turned out to be unlabeled and not much use as a guide to the campus, but still kind of intriguing.
Not roads, I think, but maybe geologic faults?
or pathways only a cow would understand
On ceramic or enamel surfaces, it might be described as “crazed with cracks,”
so maybe this is indeed, a sign of the times, as Dave suggested.
One of my grandmothers instilled in us a family custom, passed down from her parents, etc – – to celebrate the “first” of each summer arrival.
So, the first time you have any vegetable from the garden, for example, you’re allowed to make a wish.
When it’s fresh peas, or corn-on-the-cob, it’s also customary for me to wish for more.
These pictures are of the first cardinal fledgling I’ve seen this summer. I really enjoy seeing cardinals, and certainly wish to see more.
The chick was sitting in a bush, looking a bit disgruntled, but she was the one who violated the stay-at-home order.
Apparently it’s quite common for young cardinals to attempt to fly prematurely.
No worries, the parents will continue GrubHub services, to feed the chick until it can fly.
Although I think it’s sunflower seeds, not actual grubs.
Whether it’s Mexico, Chile, northern Africa, the Mideast, India, Australia, etc. there’s constant news of water shortages.
Meanwhile, around the Great Lakes, collectively a fifth of the fresh water for the entire planet, people complain of damage to shoreline properties, from high water levels. Most of the shoreline trail at Sterling has been closed, due to erosion and falling trees.
The Great Lakes Charter & the Great Lakes Compact (agreements between U.S./Canadian states/provinces bordering the lakes) basically prevent the exportation of water outside the drainage basin. Every once in a while, I see an article mentioning the possibility of pipelines to California or the Southwest. These have always remained, well, pipe dreams for now. Ocean-going tanker ships can access the lakes through the St. Lawrence Seaway, and there have already been attempts to set up sales of fresh water to foreign countries. I think such ideas will inevitably arise again with increasing urgency.
In the ’70’s, a local utility company purchased thousands of acres on Lake Ontario, for a nuclear power plant. About sixty miles east of Rochester, and twelve miles west of Oswego. There are already nuclear plants on the lake, near both those cities. When the plans for this plant fell through, part of the land became the Sterling Nature Center, which preserves two miles of Lake Ontario shoreline. It includes woods, a beaver pond, and other wetlands; about nine miles of trails, and is a great place for bird-watchers.