Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Latest New World Finn essay - On the Edge of a Slippery Slope

I write for the New World Finn - a Finnish-American quarterly that I suggest you subscribe to.

Here is an essay that they published recently under the title "On the Edge of a Slippery Slope".


I found the remains of two old kick sleds today. We recently bought a house, and with the house came a yard. There is an old root cellar out back and my curiosity got the best of me. The exposed brick wall was crumbling. The hopeless door was held almost shut by a damp length of tree branch and two bricks which had lost the battle with gravity. With the crumbling mortar and dropping bricks keeping me on my toes I wrenched the door open. I made a mental note to knock this thing down sometime soon. Tree roots were pushing through the ceiling, which at one time had been reinforced with a piece of metal sheeting.

I took a step back and peered into the creepy dark. I knew there was no way I was going in there. Visions of being knocked out by a brick and buried alive were more than obvious. Since a good buddy of mine just overcame a bout with the Hanta virus there was no way I was about to go wading around in that pile of mouse turds that controlled the floor.

My eyes started to make out the outlines of rusting objects. I could reach them without actually putting my entire body into that rotting tomb. I held my breath, stuck my arms in and pulled that metal from the earth back into the sunlight.

With most of the wood rotten away, the kick sleds were otherwise intact. Made from the good steel of the way things used to be, the runners were only rusty on the surface. A little wire brushing and a bit of oiling and they’d be glowing.

I find myself on the edge of a slippery slope. The first bits of junk are all it takes to accumulate a pile. These sled parts can be filed in the potentially useful category. I could easily rebuild their wooden parts and have two quality kick sleds. Two sleds not at all like the junk that the mega-markets sell these days. But will I ever actually embark on such a project and, if I do, will I actually ever work it to completion?

I’m tempted to put those sled irons back into the root cellar right before I take the walls down with a hammer and a bar. Return them to the earth; cover them with crumbing mortar and a jumble of red brick. Then some dirt and hacked up tree roots, a wheelbarrow or two of compost and an apple tree. That oxidizing metal would never get out of there; my junk pile would fail to accumulate.

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