Thursday, May 22, 2008

There's Treasure Everywhere

As was true last year, my hands have not been sitting idly by during these spring months still too wet to continue paint the house exterior. Putting a birthday present to good use, I spent the early part of May 2007 demolishing the concrete walkway/steps leading to our front door and then spent Memorial Day weekend (and beyond) installing a new walkway of field stone with my brother Joel.

This year's May project was transforming a 4-feet by 16-feet grass area just outside the back door into a vegetable garden. I started in late April, and now, a Saturday morning and a half dozen evenings later, the garden is ready.

Converting a grass plot into a garden plot is one of my least favorite landscaping tasks, mostly because it involves removing sod. This element was particularly frustrating because the sod to be removed happens to be the healthiest portion of grass in the backyard.

As such, the grass root mat was especially thick and cutting out the sod was increasingly difficult. I worked as efficiently and methodically as I knew how, cutting out squares measuring two-feet by two feet and then digging them up with my spade. Not wanting to waste the topsoil that was clinging to the grass roots necessitated shaking out each sod square until the topsoil had been rightly redeemed. Shaking out topsoil from sod is perhaps my second least favorite landscaping task, but it did yield some surprising results.

I had hardly made a dent into the formidable mound of sod squares and was shaking the topsoil from only the second or third of many squares when I first encountered what I consider buried treasure (my wife thinks otherwise). Upon discarding the spent sod square and searching through the topsoil below, I found the remains of a wild Indian chief, complete with head dress and rifle!

Not a real Indian chief, of course, but a yellow plastic figurine in the style of the inch-tall "Army Men" toys that little boys play with. This particular figurine had a full head dress and was aiming a rifle. And it was hardly another sod square until I discovered at whom Indian chief was aiming--a young cowboy with a cocked pistol, ready to fire! I had found some boy's lost toys!

What a miracle had just met me in the mundane task of shaking sod squares! How my pity party was crashed with the discovery of treasure in my topsoil! Imagination took hold and soon flooded my mind with thoughts of the additional treasure that may have awaited me--Indian arrow heads, old coins, jewelry--the possibilities were endless. Following my initial discovery, my senses were piqued with each stroke of my spade, listening for--expecting to hear-- the sound of metal against hollow wooden chest. For the remainder of the day I was far from my backyard and was instead trying to outwit a hoarde of pirates on Treasure Island.
Alas, my excavations were not deep enough to encounter any buried treasure of real monetary value. I finished clearing the garden plot, screened stones from the salvaged topsoil, and put a border of stained four-by-four's around. I'm pleased with how it turned out and am looking forward to literally reaping the fruits of my labors.

In all I unearthed two Indians, seven whole cowboys, one half cowboy, one half army man, one helicopter sans blades, one rusty hinge, one rusty bracket, two rusty Exact-O knife handles, two marbles, one Bic pen, a plastic quarter dated 1984, and a lucky medallion from the Philadelphia Zoo. Not a bad haul for a boy like Tom Sawyer. Not really too valuable for a boy like Scott Pearce.