This post falls under the “Truly Weird’ category. I love working with found objects be they natural or man-made, an interesting twig or dried blossom to a twisted rusted piece of old wire, everything’s fair game and can and will eventually find itself in a piece of my art. My favorite way to “shop” for these treasures is when I’m out walking my dog. Now, I live very close to some foothills with miles of hiking trails snaking back toward the higher mountains behind. Much of this land has been sparsely populated with nearly all of it being used in the past as range for cattle and little else if that. So it’s here that I find such wonders as a four point antler from a White Tail Deer or the tiny skull of a mouse. But it always gives me a little thrill when I come across something man made out on those sagebrush covered hills like the decades old totally rusted counter weight for a pendulum out of a grandfather clock – just that one piece, no other remains of a clock anywhere else around. Once I found a crescent wrench that had “Ford” molded into the metal. It seems every Model A came stock with one of these. I always wonder – how did these things get here? I can just see a Model A chug chugging as it crawls over the hills and hits a badger hole and that free wrench bounces out and over the back to land on high desert soil where it waits for a century to be found by a lucky me. But the clock piece? A mystery, how on earth does that item come to be there for me to find?
Over the years I’ve found piles of this kind of treasure stretching back to when I was a little kid. A favorite brother and I were pretty close, he being just one year older than I, and we ran loose as little kids (parents saw risks and dangers differently then). Our favorite playground was a dumping ground of an international big construction company (I know, homebased in Boise, Idaho – go figure). This area was covered in vintage broken down equipment, truck trailers full of forgotten metal tools and supplies, acres of rust and neglect. We loved it! On one of our trips we came home shaking a large coffee can full of these strange long tubes that looked like dirty white cigars with wires sticking out of the ends. Mom had no clue as to what they were but Dad, to his shock, recognized them immediately – blasting caps! It was an exciting day I will always remember.
Yesterday I decided to walk my dog in an area close by that was being bull dozed, new home site pads were being cut out of the hillside. I’ve always felt an attraction to seeing what the earth might be hiding when large gouts are cut away and soil that hasn’t seen the sun for millennia is suddenly exposed. What made this even more exciting was that about ten years back I had found a fossilized bone there, about five inches long, that turned out to be the toe bone of a camelopsis, forerunner to the camel, and yes, they originated in North America and were later imported to the middle east. I LOVE finding fossils, so hearing they were moving earth in the area where I’d found my “camel” I went with my happy dog in anticipation of finding a complete camelopsis skeleton just peeking out of a peeled opened hillside. No such luck. Though five or six new home site pads had been scrapped opened (and I’m always saddened to see wild space going to human expansion as I know it will never come back to wild again) there were no apparent fossils to be found.
While my dog chased rabbits I walked the path the dozer took and rolled over rocks and poked out weird root shapes and enjoyed covering an area that I may have never walked before. About to call it good, I slid my way down towards the road when I spotted a square shape, nature doesn’t really do square so I crabbed my way across the cut to pull out the item. I could tell right off it was man-made but feeling the earth move – literally – under my feet, I shoved the box in my coat pocket and got myself off the crumbling hillside.
Once home I gave the little box more attention. I tried to read the lid, it was pretty eroded but I finally got it “Blasting Caps”. How weird, over fifty years ago I was exactly in the same spot. What are the odds? Granted, these caps are smaller and in copper tubes, but still – out in the middle of high desert nowhere I find a box of Vintage blasting caps.
Probably should of bought a lottery ticket yesterday. Oh well.