What You Will Not Find Here

You will find no advertising, no pop-ups, no tweets. Not even photographs, let alone a slide show. Nothing here will be moving fast. It will hardly be moving at all. Visit when you want a break from frenzy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 12 Outdoors: Civilization and Its Discontents

Tuesday, March 20, 5:00-6:15 p.m.

The spring equinox arrived in the night, and today will be as long as that night, but the temperature is more that of a summer day, almost that of the summer solstice. Out in the relatively open ground of yard, meadow and orchard the birds vocalize and flit and feed and preen: robins, bluebirds, woodpeckers, sparrows, red-wing blackbirds and crows. The gurgling melody of the song sparrow rises above the crows’ rusty calls, but inside the edge of the Eastern Woods, where the descending afternoon light reaches in through leafless branches, a quiet calm prevails, disturbed only by the buzzing of large summery flies. The flies heard the call of a small, freshly broken branch, oozing fresh sap, and first came one, crawling quickly and greedily about the sapling’s trunk, shortly joined by two more. From how far away did they sense the banquet, and how?

Below the tree with the flies spreads a perfect jumble of human refuse, the smallest corner a confusion of broken lines and rust, objects half buried and parts of other objects thrown on top of the heap. It is an unofficial farm dump, a tradition of country living. The pile includes wood of all kinds—broken crates, pallets, boards, an old wooden soft drink crate and discarded chairs, with one large fallen tree and many branches mixed in. There are also sheets of metal, sections of old furnace ducting, a kettle, an old charcoal grill or two, rusty appliances and more than one old sugaring pail. There are concrete blocks and wheels, bits of screen and old doors. It’s hard to find anything that is whole and unblemished. Maybe impossible. One old wooden trunk has so rotted out that the old leather handles hang in black, twisted scraps, and light penetrates into the formerly secret interior.

Man is part of nature, too. There is no separation between the branches and the boards, all tumbled together, and the wild leeks and spring beauties are undeterred by the presence of manufactured refuse. An old alarm clock, missing its hands, crawls with tiny ants. This place is as peaceful as a cemetery. Through the trees, in the west, Lake Michigan is bright blue.


Gerry said...

I expect all those things were pretty well used up before being discarded there. Figuring out how to recycle a trash heap/treasure pile like that is an interesting challenge all by itself. Hmmm.

P. J. Grath said...

I confess I've dragged home a treasure or two, For instance, there is the old watering can with the leaky bottom and a old, handmade short ladder. I was tempted by the sugaring buckets but resisted. They were past their prime, full of holes.

Dawn said...

I THOUGHT there'd be something good in there! Certainly something photogenic..but I like the drawings just as well, maybe more.

P. J. Grath said...

The expedition with the camera (on "A Shot in the Light") and the session with sketchbook were on two different days and at different times of day. The first sketch here is my attempt at a contour drawing. The idea with a contour drawing is to keep the pen (or pencil) on the paper and not lift it in going from one object line to another. Something to work on further.