Last week I flew to the Midwest & drove up North for a 2-day threadless hunt along a line I am familiar with. The poles are long gone, but the rotten moss-covered pole butts can still be found, if you take your time.
Typical October weather greeted us—a somber methodic drizzle and forty-eight degrees dampened the prairie plants, thoroughly soaked our clothing, but seemed to make the yellow leaves of the silver maples glow. The second day of hunting was even more miserable, hiking through thorny bramble & briers, hitchhikers clinging to our sopping-wet shoes & nettles stinging our arms, seemingly just for the hell of it. Late in the afternoon dusk was firmly settling in along with my disconsolation—we had yet to find anything.
We decided to head back to the car & try to lift our spirits with dinner when I spotted an ancient Choke Cherry tree growing along the line. I decided to take a look around the tree as one-last attempt to find something—anything, even a lousy Hemingray-42 or my lost youth. Cliché intended. My hiking partner decided he'd had enough & abandoned me for a warm car.
As I approached the tree I navigated a thick curtain of underbrush, trying to get close to the trunk. As I pushed through the ragweed my arm caught something hard: an old Iron wire that was now part of the tree trunk! I pulled on the wire and followed it along until I reached the base of the tree. There, to my surprise & excitement I found a gift left behind from linesmen long past: they had meticulously collected the iron wire & tire splices during the tear-down and left it all in one neat coil on the ground, through the center of which the tree had sprouted & grown over the century. I'm not sure how much Iron wire was coiled on the ground, perhaps a mile or two.
I didn't have time to dig for glass, put pulled out my wire cutters & rescued 5 fabulous splices from various sections of the coil. Thought they'd make a neat shadow box display. We saved the GPS coordinates & will return to dig after the leaves fall, not the rain.
What a neat piece of history! If that beautiful era could only come again…