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05 March, 2011


I saw this the other day, an artifact for the future, but from my own past, so too modern for my taste.

I was on the Island again, gales having blown away my chaces of getting there last week when I could have seen some snow. This trip was with one of the tribe's biologists and archaeologist, and we made a circuit of the meadow, which is saturated now, and talked about what kinds of things might be done to restore the natural ecology. ("Stand back and wait," I want to say, but people want to see something happen in their lifetime, preferably before they are old, maybe this biennium before funding is diverted to cover a war or corporate welfare.)

One thing that tribes and scientists and land managers seem to agree on is that the dike cutting off the estuary ought to come out. Of course, the dike was first built in the 1870s, and therefore is a historic resource, something whose preservation should be considered.

But winter storms in the last two years have begun to erode the thing, revealing that most of the dike is not that old. I'd figured 1960s or 1970s, and on this trip, the latter and later of these seems right. I had a comb like the one in the photo. When I was small, they looked very similar, but the teeth were brittle, snapping off and allowing channels of snag to slip through. These must've been thrown away in droves, and will be abundant in the archaeological record. But the one show is "Unbreakable," rubberized or something. Boys carried them in their hip pockets into the 1980s maybe. I stopped paying in attention when I stopped combing my hair in '79 or so (a streak that continues!), but I am pretty sure these became uncool not long after.

The biologists were a little impressed by this deduction, and maybe in awe of my nerdiness and ability to ply my trade in such shallow waters.

One day, when the dike is removed, I'll be there, scampering around the backhoe, rooting in the backdirt. The comb, like the ruler I found last time comes from the recent history of the place, when there was a school for boys. The fill that was pushed here encapsulated some of their history, from a time when I was a boy too. Maybe I'll find evidence of the brittle-Unbreakable sequence, maybe some toys or school gear, maybe Piggy's broken glasses or a conch shell...

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