Spring has come really really early this year. In the middle of March, temperatures were in the 80s and all life exploded. I spent some time trying to deal with some of the results of last year’s “weather events” – the windstorm (little tornado?) that took down a chokecherry tree in the woods to the east of the house; hangers & fallen limbs back by the cemetery that came down during the great Halloween snowstorm. In the process I’ve been using my trusty bow saw to cut up small limbs and dispose of some of the larger invasive shrubs that plague us here.
While I was dealing the the cherry, I found clam shells scattered about, apparently at random. I have a dim memory, from the deep past of my childhood, of there being clamshells in the far back part of the driveway – tossed out I suppose because back then one burned one’s trash, composted the organics, and took only the really big stuff to the dump. I suppose the thinking was that the cars in the driveway would grind the shells up and so dispose of them, and I guess they did, because there’s no evidence of them at all any more.
I wonder when these particular clam shells were thrown into the woods. Were they thrown there at random, or was there a compost heap there, and these are all that remain? How old are they? Were people once eating lots more clams than they are now? I don’t suppose I’ll ever know. (I’ve often thought that it would be really interesting to get an archeological field school up here to poke around the neighborhood. It tends to be a stable one – not too many buildings coming & going, not a high turnover in terms of the people who are living here, so it seems like it might be a great way to understand a whole neighborhood).
While I don’t approve of the people who come through with their metal detectors looking for treasure, because along with the coins they find, they take away a little piece of the local context, over the years we have also turned up all sorts of things (mostly through our gardening) and taken them out of context, too. Bits and pieces of crockery, bottles, and building hardware, and also toys. I’m not sure what they tell us, except that we are more than our physical selves. We leave bits and pieces of all that we consume and use all over the place. All the stuff that’s just inches under the top of the soil, at the moment hidden from view,
are part of the many layers of living that add to the romance and mystery of this old house. In a way, all those people who have lost or abandoned things still live here, in some small forgotten relic left behind in the grass, or the woods, or the old privy hole.