Sign of the Times

I love historical landmarks. Whether they mark the spot of a delightfully obscure battle or claim to be a founding father's rest stop, I find these factoids fascinating. What tasty morsels of history they contain!

 Oh look! There's one now! Quick, pull over!

Well isn't that interesti...HUH?!

Had to do a double take, didn't you? This sign comes from the brilliantly subversive and socially conscious mind of artist Norm Magnusson as part of his I-75 Project. This inspired installation places historical markers with social and political content throughout the country. Magnusson's goal is "not to incite, but inspire thought."

I remember seeing his signs when they made the media rounds a few years ago. You can imagine my glee at stumbling upon one for real - it was like finding the holy grail! Pull over and take a look at the rest of his historical!

Everything AND the Kitchen Sink

While on a lengthy drive to a trailhead, we stopped at the side of the road to let our restless dogs do what dogs do on the sides of roads. A few yards up we came across a curious discovery.

As if dropped from a temporal portal of the past and plunked down among the moss in the middle of nowhere sits this porcelain sink, circa 1950. A dishtowel has been carefully draped on the edge and the plates and saucers are neatly stacked in the drainer, as if June Cleaver herself, having finished her after-dinner chores, disappeared in a puff of smoke along with the rest of her surroundings.

Nary a house nor campsite can be found nearby to explain its presence. Judging by the trademarks on the dinnerware, this is old, durable crockery. My mother had an entire set of Corelle by Corning which held plenty of scrumptious mac 'n' cheese lunches throughout the years...but that was long ago and I certainly didn't help rinse the dishes in the woods after gorging myself on Kraft.

So why is it here? And who is using it? Have the bears in the Catskills evolved in ways we're not aware? It's a puzzle wrapped in porcelain shrouded in soapsuds, and I fear it will never be solved!

Ebony & Ivory... together in perfect pine-scented harmony. This lyrical sculpture was found in a wide field between two homes.

The oversized keys are made of wood, but the cast-iron frames and taut metal strings are authentic.

Behning & Sons, established in New York City in 1861, was known for building high quality, expensive pianos. Their success was dampered by the Great Depression - a sad coda, for sure - and the firm was sold to Kohler & Campbell, who continued producing pianos under the Behning name into the 1950s.

I often wonder about the oddities I find here in the Catskills. So many of them are objects that have found a second, sometimes altered, life. Who was the artist that constructed this....was he or she a musician? What happened to the original piano? And who was its first owner? All sorts of scenarios pop into my head over the provenance of such an item, which strikes a decidedly odd and mysterious chord in my imagination.