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Axe Head and Glass: We’ve Always Thrown Things Away

An old axe head and bits of glass dug out of a Maine hillside: antique trash

This afternoon, while taking out some grass to plant some sunflower seeds on the side of a hill here in Maine, my daughter and uncovered a fair amount of broken glass from old jars and the head of an axe, all less than an inch below the top of the sod. I remember that my mother had similar experiences gardening with me as a child back in the 1970s. Across the street, our neighbor describes picking through his yard thirty years ago and hauling out tires, ovens, scythes and various other discarded things. Our lovely lawns sit atop generations of trash.

Enough with the Golden Ages talk. People have always thrown things away. There are just so many more of us now that the bulk of accumulation can’t be sodded over.

4 thoughts on “Axe Head and Glass: We’ve Always Thrown Things Away”

  1. Louise says:

    Was this typical “kitchen midden” trash, generated by your home’s former occupants? How old do you think this material is? Did your town formerly have a dump that residents had to haul their trash to privately, or was their some other reason that you would find this refuse in your yard?

    1. Jim says:

      It looks like it was indeed generated by somebody who lived here before — the farmhouse is about 100 years old, and old metal debris is scattered throughout the woods all over town here. It looks like the old practice was just to toss it all down the hill.

  2. Tom says:

    i have a recycling bin where i put human debris found while mowing or planting. i have an old metal tractor seat, an intact very small (medicine?) vial with a cork for a lid, old rusted pliers, a spoon, lots of broken glass (so my dog doesn’t get cut feet chasing his ball), a solid rubber wagon tire with metal rim, and a piece of an old dish in there with various potshards, plastic sheeting and other stuff.

    The stuff is either exposed or rises to the surface due to rain and my digging around while planting trees, flowers, plants of the edible variety, bushes, or pulling weeds and rocks out of the ground.

  3. Louise says:

    I love collecting this kind of material. Our house sits in the bed of a former stream or brook (which is why rthe basement floor has running water when it rains.) But there must has been some kind of smelting operation here once. I have found large and beautiful chunks of melted slag glass, bits of dark metal tha bear the imprint of long-ago grass, and all sort of odd glass and metal splatters in roundish lumps.

    When you dig down about eight inches, you hit dense red clay as hard as wood, larded with small and medium-sized smooth river rocks. This clay retains its shape without crumbling, and dries brick-like. Local Makes me wish I had a small backhoe.

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