This summer I’ve been involved in an informal deal — in exchange for a house to inhabit I agreed to do a few tasks. One of these tasks involved pouring concrete, a type of work I’ve more-or-less successfully avoided in recent years.
Part of this work involved digging in the scanty and rocky soil which partially cloaks this Southeast Arizona canyon. I’ve encountered several cast-off human artifacts during this project, mostly items which didn’t interest me, like old bottle-caps and pull-tabs. Yesterday I happened upon something a bit different, a chunk of eroded iron which I picked up and examined. I stuck the chunk into a back jeans pocket and photographed it later.
The piece of iron looks like the younger brother of a railroad spike. It’s just four inches long:
After I shot a few photos of the spike it occurred to me that this miniature spike is most likely a relic of the old shaft-mining days here in Bisbee, a spike which held down the narrow-gauge rails along which ore-carts traveled to and fro, carrying copper ore to the surface from the Stygian depths. This was during the early twentieth century, before open-pit mining became prevalent.
In the above photo the shadow cast by the late-afternoon sun caught my interest. I was reminded of a Hokusai print, one of the series “36 Views of Mount Fuji”.
This wood-block print is called “Great Wave Off Kanagawa”. Fishing boats in trouble can be seen in the foreground, while Mt. Fuji broods in the background. I must confess that graphic artists such as Hokusai, Escher, and botanical illustrators interest me; life is too short to pay much attention to urban artists feted by the insular “fine” arts people. Here are a couple of fine waterfall prints by Hokusai, who was a major influence upon early 20th-century illustrators such as Arthur Rackham and Sidney Sime.