Sunday, September 20, 2009

a ton of bricks

I love found objects.

Like lots of people, I've scavenged glass bottles and clay flower pots from wild garden plots and rescued other families' forgotten furniture from attic storage. In a rat's cache between the walls of a demolished farmhouse, I once found a bisque doll's head and old marbles, and brought them home along with a massive pile of old hickory planks and multi-pane windows. Come to think of it, I even found three intact, dried rats on the carport laundry room shelf of the first house I owned (I didn't keep those for long). That house came stocked with the silverware, Corningware, and Japanese cleaver I now use in my kitchen, though the former owners' recliners, computer desk, and dried flower arrangements became someone else's treasure through the virtue of curbside pickup. Over the years countless mirrors, tables, and chairs, including the perfect antique Steelcase that I sit in every day (all day) and the eight oak college library chairs around my dining room table, have made their way from other people's homes and offices to the rooms in my house.

The finds I like the best are the buried ones - like the ten awesome bricks I uncovered in one of our flower beds (if you consider a strip of sand and yard-tall grass a flower bed at all) while doing some earth-turning a couple of weekends ago. Look how pretty they are!

Once part of a series of weird borders involving coquina rocks, broken tiles, and popcorn stepping stones, these babies will soon see a second (or third, or fourth) life as something fantastic - once I figure out what that is. Just having them makes me feel good.

I recently tried to explain to Ian the value of found objects for landscaping projects. Of course he got the part about reusing good stuff that might end up in landfills, and he appreciates the character of aged materials that you just don't get with brand-new Home Depot purchases, but I don't think he quite understood the thrill that comes from finding good, free stuff just there, waiting for you to take it. Until now.

A few days after my astronomical find of the ten awesome bricks, I received the following instant message from Ian, who works at the college in our neighborhood:

Ian: They're redoing the area in front of the president's office.

Tearing up the brick pavers and putting in new ones.

They're going to have a gigantic pile of the old bricks that they're going to give away.

Interested in some?

Are you kidding? Check it out.

Four hundred awesome bricks. Never mind that Ian had to dig through four mountains of sand, cement, and broken bricks to get them, or that we spent a couple of hours together stacking them in our cars and hauling them back out again. They were free! And we're thrilled.
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