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I spent the long weekend (when I wasn’t snoozing in the sun under a downy layer of chickens) weeding the borders around the house. When you live in a four hundred year old cottage, the job ain’t so bad.

I always — I mean always — dig up interesting bits of junk. And by “dig up” I mean, more often than not, find lying on the surface, thanks to that curious process by which earth acts like water, drawing objects down and lifting them up again. Fluid but glacially slow.

Today, I dug up part of a tiny pelvis and several long bones. I’ve either exhumed someone’s beloved cat or secret lovechild. Um, oops?

Also, several small lengths of clay pipestem. I find a lot of that. I’ve only found one bowl so far (pictured above) and it’s a very early one. The small bowl and wide angle between it and the stem puts it around 1600-ish, the internet tells me. Maybe the very first owner of this house was the smoker.

Found them by the place where the front door used to be. Imagine the master of the house knocking out his pipe on the threshold before coming in of an evening, and “oh, bugger” it breaks. So he throws it…four centuries into the future.

I find dozens of pottery chips. Makes me laugh. Blue and white could be anything from Delft, 1580 to Woolworths, 1976. Same with the mysterious lumps of rust; they could be anything, any time.

One of these days, I’ll dig up a coin. I know it. I don’t care what it is; I just want some lunch money from the past.

I often think the saddest thing about living in a house this old is how haunted it isn’t; how many people have lived whole lives inside these four walls and left no trace on them. All I have to know them by is little busted up bits of junk they threw out in the yard.

There’s a metaphor in there somewhere. A really depressing metaphor.

April 25, 2011 — 10:33 pm
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