Once or twice I spoke of the heavy rains and flooding that occurred in the area around the beginning of the year. As normally happens under such circumstances, the deluge uncovered—or at least moved into sight—a bit of flotsam and jetsam, detritus from human activities. And that’s in addition to nature’s own debris, from twigs and branches to leaves and rocks, and even the occasional whole tree (or, if the storm’s bad enough, many whole trees).
I usually find some of this garbage offensive when it’s trash washed into the lake or surrounding area from those too lazy to put such things where they belong. Yet there have been times when I’ve discovered some rather odd remnants of society.
For example, I once found a bowling ball hidden beneath the pier in Sunset Bay. It sat heavily against the shore with half its form bathed under the water’s surface. Even I know a bowling ball didn’t wash into the lake from a distant landfill or a recently bulldozed bowling alley. I still ponder from time to time where it came from and how long it had been there. Precisely what story could that bowling ball tell if it had the ability to convey its own history? Would it speak of mundane things, perhaps a juvenile toying with his or her father’s hobby, only to lose it in the reservoir? Or would it tell a tale of a car accident from long ago when both vehicle and ball found their way into the lake via an unusual chain of events—or even something as simple as too much alcohol and too much speed? I wonder…
Then there are the catastrophic tempests for which Texas is known, storms so violent and powerful that they have no problem splitting trunks and toppling trees around which I’d be unable to wrap my arms, and these add their own flavor to whatever mess might be found. One such storm occurred only last year and left the lake devastated. Many areas were impassable for some time due to the large trees and branches scattered about like so many matchsticks. Evidence of nature’s own fury can still be found in some places, in fact, such as the fallen tree stranded near shore that I saw during one of our winter storms this season. Traces dating back to even earlier gales are evident in places like the middle of the lake.
So it’s not at all out of the ordinary to stumble upon this and that, signs and proof of what nature can shuffle about on scales larger than anything humans are capable of. And that brings me back to where I started.
While I sauntered aimlessly at the lake earlier this year after heavy downpours and torrential floods, my eyes set upon a great many items of interest that evidenced what had happened. I saw paper and cups and branches and leaves, not to mention a great many other tidbits abandoned haphazardly here and there after the rains finished playing with them. One such article was this:
The only reason I even saw it was because it had been washed clean enough by the showers to reflect sunshine. Deposited at the edge of the water among dead leaves and stones and dirt and small twigs, it would have gone completely unnoticed had it not glinted excitedly as I passed.
Let me admit now that my age allows me to remember when all drink cans had such pull-tabs on them. Let me also admit they were so ubiquitous that we did what everyone else did in the ’70s: make long chains of them, and necklaces, and bracelets, and whatever else could be formed by connecting them together. Mind you, that’s because there really was little else to do in the ’70s besides look for entertainment in whatever was at hand. But I digress…
I stood momentarily and looked at the little metal historical marker and wondered at its age. Like the bowling ball before it, and the fallen trees before that, and a great many ordinaries I have found to be extraordinary, I began thinking what story it might tell, what perspective on progress it might give. So I knelt in the mud and photographed it, and then I sat there and looked at it and its surroundings… and I thought.
Now looking at the picture, I realize its a relic from a different time. How long had it been hidden? How many storms had come and gone without unearthing it? How many more would come and go before it was once again buried, lost until a new generation rediscovers it?