Resting place

after the dance

On a cool morning in April, two worn-out mattresses and a midden of shoes make an attractive landing spot for spring azure butterflies. Behind them, woods are reclaiming a lot that was once part of a small airport.

recliner

Every year at about this time I find myself drawn to such tableaus. Though I had no input in the choice of the current “Nature in the Cracks” theme at qarrtsiluni, it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time of the year as far as I’m concerned. The regenerative power of nature is always at its most striking in the vicinity of crumbling, rusting, or decaying human artifacts — especially when those artifacts were mass-produced garbage from their inception, designed to wear out and be replaced in an ever-quickening cycle of frenetic consumption. Going back to nature is really the only way they can attain a measure of dignity and beauty.

Electropure Milk

Consider by contrast the durable, reusable milk bottle, occasionally found in dumps, but more often on collectors’ shelves. Finding such a bottle resting in a bed of leaves out in the woods invites the kind of admiration otherwise reserved for empty turtle shells or shed antlers. As a miniature reservoir for rainwater, it might even serve a useful ecological function, providing habitat for the gnats, midges, and other assorted organisms that are probably scarcer than they should be in this upland forest too young — as most of our forests are now — for the profusion of water-trapping cavities natural to a hardwood forest ecosystem.

ruins

Inside the foundations of an old cabin, someone has fashioned a couple of stone seats. These are ruins of the classic type, appreciation for which has become so widespread that no one thinks twice about routing a popular hiking trail right past them. What better place to sit and listen to black-throated green warblers calling from the hemlocks on a cool April afternoon? It’s fun to imagine living in a space too small for any of our junk. Just the bare essentials, we say to ourselves: somewhere to take off our shoes and put our feet up. Somewhere to rest.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

16 Comments


  1. Reminds me of Lorianne’s feral furniture shots, particularly the recliner.

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  2. … and like any other carrion, the recliner will eventually be reduced to its skeleton, which will supplement the shrubbery as a nesting site and perch.

    … speaking of which, Australia is such a pre-ironic place that there is actually a chain of luggage shops in the airports called “carri(on)”, staffed by chipper people who’ve never noticed the other meaning …

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  3. And having degraded or otherwise drifted beyond human usability, they’re now open to the purposes of less perfectionistic creatures….

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  4. Walking a favorite trail in the GMNF the other day, I saw my first piece of litter of spring (it’s a respected place, on the whole, there isn’t much): an IBC root beer bottle, old enough to have become a fascinating artifact wholly taken over by the forest.

    There was a salamander in it, riding the water in the trailside culvert.

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  5. The regenerative power of nature is always at its most striking in the vicinity of crumbling, rusting, or decaying human artifacts — especially when those artifacts were mass-produced garbage from their inception, designed to wear out and be replaced in an ever-quickening cycle of frenetic consumption. Going back to nature is really the only way they can attain a measure of dignity and beauty.

    Two good points that had never crossed my mind. Thanks.

    Concerning the dignity and beauty, I guess that’s why corporations often place their crap in natural settings for ads, settings where the products can’t function as designed. The pickup trucks on buttes, etc.

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  6. I love the second one. There’s you some dignity and beauty. I’ve never been so attracted to a La-Z-Boy.

    And I’m glad they have each other, sitting out there alone.

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  7. What stunning colour in these photos, especially the silvery sofa against the emerald shrubbery. I’ll bet you’ve done some fine tuning the digital way and if so, it’s with a talented painter’s eye. Bravo for helping nature so unobtrusively and sympathetically.

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  8. The sofa in the green in funny, and the milk bottle, with the italicised lettering echoing the shapes of the dead leaves is very satifying. I do remember though being told as a kid that glass bottles like that lying around were dangerous for small creatures who would enter them seeking food then not be able to climb out up the glass sides…

    I have mixed feelings about all kinds of litter and tipping like this, it does look kind of interesting as it decays, and I’m attracted to photographing it, but it’s pretty gross really. Oddly. I think I prefer it when the sea’s ahd a go at it, which is probably even more polluting.

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  9. Jarrett – Pretty funny! So Australia’s pre-ironic, huh? Is an Irony Age part of the expected development of societies? I had no idea.

    David – That’s one way of putting it.

    Theriomorph – Give it time, and I’m sure that root beer bottle will fill with roots.

    Peter – Concerning the dignity and beauty, I guess that’s why corporations often place their crap in natural settings for ads, settings where the products can’t function as designed. The pickup trucks on buttes, etc.
    Good point!

    Jo – Thanks.

    Natalie – That was my favorite of these, too. I added a little bit of the “diffuse glow” effect at the end to bring out that spiritual look.

    Glad you like the bear and the layout, though I can’t guarantee that either will stay.

    Lucy – That might be true if the bottle were at a steep angle, but otherwise I don’t see it.

    Floating plastics in the ocean are a huge threat to marine ecoystems. I agree that glass comes back much improved.

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  10. One of my pet-loves about VT is that we can get milk in glass bottles that get returned to the dairy and used again.

    Love these photos, Dave.

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  11. Thanks, Kat. Is that mandated by state law in Vermont? Here in PA there are still a few dairies that sell milk in returnable bottles; we patronize one in State College (which is also hormone-free).

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  12. I enjoyed this post, I particualrly like the photo and discussion of the milk bottle and the idea of finding somewhere to live too small for all our junk.

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  13. Hey, thanks. Be sure to follow my link, then, and read Beth’s post – great discussion there.

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