Monday, April 13, 2015

Ancient Ruins versus Upcycling

Today we explored a beautiful area in the Four Peaks Wilderness. We watched a dinosaur centipede and several golden gopher snakes as we wandered.

We crossed the Salt River and saw the Dam. It was gorgeous, gold was the color of the day. Gold flowers, large jumping golden bellied fish, golden views and golden company. We hiked to a spring that looked like it should have been in a secret cool spots to hike to top ten list. We sat near cat tails at a still pool of water, there was a little waterfall. I enjoyed clearing leaves so water could flow more freely down, increasing the sound of water moving down the rocks. What an unusual musical instrument it was, volume and tone influenced by my hands gliding in the water. I watched a large crayfish pause in dappled shadows before vanishing beyond the sun's reflection. I imagined having to transport different sized waterfalls to play in Opera Halls, sitting on a lit perch and playing at night with the water lit in multicolored lights.

We explored an area of Indian ruins. I thought about how many have done insane or disrespectful things over and with artifacts. I thought of wintering in South Carolina several years ago.
My landlords lived next door. Two amazing married men who still make me smile fondly thinking of them. They were working on cleaning up the property, prior residents had been evicted while others had chosen to leave. All somehow left their unwanted posessions.
I decided to help, just to see the place become more beautiful and healthy and because it was basically a free way to get good exercise. We filled three dumpsters and a scrap metal bin. We weren't done yet. Modern leavings not worth taking, left and of no reusable value. No one sneaking in to pillage the broken plastic kiddie pool pieces, water bottles, disintigrated pool noodles,  and ruined carpets. No upcycle potential, we wracked our brains for ways to potentially use broken baby car seats, and other items too odd and disfunctional you could ponder a lifetime and never comprehend why it was there. A new toilet on the side of a hill, piles of glass panes and weather beaten books, even a full set up for a jungle gym that was left about twenty or thirty years ago. It felt like the items were just begging to be picked up and discarded. They were left and wanting to leave. If their owners had the choice they'd be bothered to have even been reminded of having owned the items. We are reminded how ephemeral our society is, how everything has fluxuating value; material goods on a slow constant decline after purchase.

Now I think of ancient ruins. North American, South American, Asian, Indian, everywhere ruins. The arrowheads we found in New York fields. The shards of pottery and complete pieces that are in the southwest. Valued because they were well made, brilliant works of art and function. Not left, still waiting for their people to come back and use them again. The people who made them made them with care and focus, with the intent of making beautiful, strong pottery. They did and people cannot help but want to see it, touch it, admire the skill and longevity.

Perhaps we can learn from the past. Make choices to reduce the unnecessary, picture items the way theyll look in the landfill in a hundred years. Imagine someone digging that up. Value? Inspiration? Worth? Could a broken version of it have value if upcycled?

Upcycling finds ways to take inexpensive items and improve them. Using pallets to plant gardens on the side of a building, using a tea cup as a planter. What do you have around that you could give new life and function through upcycling?