Artifacts

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Logging Dog”. If you’reinterested in a copy please use the contact instructions at the bottom of the page.

Somewhere in the distant past the forest echoes with the voice of the foreman mingled with either the whine of chainsaw motor or the thump of axes being driven into the boles. The crackle of limbs breaking and thunderous crash echoes through the mountains as a giant falls to the earth. The tree lands with the precision of a master archer’s winning bullseye. The lumber will go to mill where it will become part of School, home, church or any number of beloved objects made from wood. Worn out by the heavy labor the lumberjacks begin to gather their tools leaving the undergrowth to mature for the next fifty years or so. When done properly the harvest will actually improve the overall health and diversity of the forests and for now the last mature tree has been taken. And beneath the broken limbs and scattered leaves there are artifacts left behind.

Fast forward a few decades and you’ll see my father improving a trail that cuts through the back of property. He spots something in spoil cast aside by blade of his tractor. The short section of heavy chain has a spike on one end that’s designed to be driven into a log like an anchor. The artifact is called a logging dog and it’s used to drag logs to landing where they are loaded into the truck. It was a valuable tool for whoever left it behind but now it’s a treasured conversation piece in my Dad’s collection. It makes me wonder why we are drawn to things like warped and weathered wood or rusty chunks of metal. Sometimes it’s a lost item like the logging dog or the axe head that I found in the same area several years before he found the chain. Other times it’s a discarded item like an antique soda bottle that a camper no longer needed. Such things as old canning jars and antique medicine bottles have a value on the open market. There was a time when a young man person could excavate a makeshift dump and carry out a little spending money in the form of unbroken glass and rusted iron. Recently I rediscovered a rusted item that I pulled out of the creek. The photos I posted on a Facebook Forum are below.

While not as artistic as I like to post the “mystery object” has conjured up guesses of everything from lost confederate treasures to counter weighs for a barn door. ( I believe that counter weight theory is in lead)

Whatever it is it has the same appeal as the logging dog. It’s a connection to the past. It was a part of someone’s everyday life and witness to history.

I enjoy keeping my eyes open when I’m nearby old job sites and forgotten places. Nice finds like antique blue mason jars are going to be a pretty rare find these days and most of stuff I spot aren’t really worth picking up except to dispose of it properly but occasionally I find something unique enough to at least try to figure out what it was when it was new.

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The Hotrod

You climb in and slip behind the wheel. The key is already in the ignition and the engine roars to life. The ground shakes in time with the pulsating pistons. The sheer power rumbles throughout your body. One hand on the wheel and one on the stick as you feather the gas pedal and drag the clutch.
A young girl steps out between the two cars and shakes the bandana from her hair. You glance at your opponent only long enough to make eye contact and then back to the bandana raised high in air.
Three. Tighten your grip on the wheel
Two. Find that sweet spot in the clutch and rev the engine.
One. Release the clutch and give it all she’s got.
Thick clouds of smoke roll out from the tires and the smell of hot rubber saturates the air. The inertia holds you tightly in the seat and you become as much machine as you are human. The wind whips through your hair as you check the mirrors. The car in the mirror fades into a tiny dots as the motor winds out to full power. You have already passed the finish line.
You allow the car to coast a little before brakes are applied. You turn the car around and meet your opponent still coming the other way. The sportsman like thing to do is congratulate him on a race well run and wish him better luck next time however you’ve beaten him so bad that it would be like rubbing salt in an open wound.
He avoids eye contact and it’s just as well. Back at the starting line the crowd cheers as you exit the vehicle and collect your prize. A single kiss from the girl with the bandana.

Remembering The Country Store

I remember the country store. We still have a few country stores in the world but not many. There was one gas pump (Petrol for my international friends), a variety of canned goods, perishables such as fresh vegetables and hardware. There was no vending machine. Instead a large chest near the counter kept eight ounce glass bottles of soft drinks on one side and beer on the other side. In the back of the store you could find a small selection of sporting goods. All of fishing tackle, shotgun shells and 22 caliber rifle rounds were common as was traps for fur trappers. But the most sought after resource to be found in the country store was the counter itself. Not a counter that’s crammed to brim with cheap impulse buys but a spacious wooden counter that worn down from being well used. It’s stained with coffee and soft drinks and scratched from hardware or change being tossed down at checkout. A properly equipped counter in a country store comes with a smiling face and plenty of conversation. In the days before Facebook we made a public post by mentioning something to clerk ( Who was usually the owner/operator). The clerk would then leak the news to the next customer during his checkout. ( yup, back then gossip was done without any social media). There was a bit of an art to being a clerk in the country store. Just the right amount of conversation and gossip would keep the customer in the building long enough to encourage a subsequent purchase but not so much that they felt trapped. The clerk knew everyone in the community and what gossip to keep to himself. ( A built-in spam filter!) Well, most of the time anyway.

Today mostly what you find is the convenience store. The best way to tell the difference between a country store and a convenience store is the atmosphere. A country store is welcoming and inviting where a convenience store is focused on bulk processing of sales. The later type is usually clean and neat with no coffee stained counters and very little in the way of a relationship with the customers. Just pay and get out. With the onset of automation the friendly clerk will be replaced by computer and a scanner.

My friend Sophia and I was commenting about how something made by human hands was more valuable than something stamped out by a machine. As we move forward into the brave new world of robots and app purchases consider the value of the people who are out there building their business based on a relationship with the community rather than just bulk processing of sales. ( And do stop by Sophia’s blog. She covers a broad range of things from an intelligent and interesting angle in the UK. )