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March 13, 2010 - Signage

Hey! No peeing in the alley!
Normally I would think they meant parking, but this was right behind the wine shop.

All right, all you evacuees, I want a nice, tight line. You call that a line?! That's unacceptable! Send them back to Shipping & Recieving. Ugh!

So you're wandering around for hours with your dog and camera while the car repair guys are 'repairing' your car (actually they're just damaging your wallet with an air hammer, and not repairing your car at all). They told you it would be an hour, so you think maybe an hour and a half tops. You bring the dog to kill two birds with one stone, get in a dog walk while your waiting, down by the majestic Mississippi River in near flood stages, and by the Ford plant down the street from the car place. Ironically enough, your car is actually a Ford, and you don't know whether to flip the buidling off and curse it each time you walk by the place, or just look the other direction.
You wander back up by the car place after an hour and hey, your car is in the garage. That's a good thing. Or is it? It would be better if it was back outside and parked in a different spot. You walk on. Down a sidestreet. Down some alley past kicked in TV sets and the cigarette butts behind the VFW. Up some street that you just walked down. People in houses are peering through their blinds at you. Dogs bark muffled barks somewhere deep inside.
You're trying not to look at your watch, but when you do, it's just like at the doctors office, we're now clicking over two hours.
You're walking around carrying bags of poop because it's 'spring' and they haven't put all the trash barrels out yet (or maybe budget cuts just removed them completely, why waste money on waste?), and since you have the time you're letting your dog sniff every leaf, tree, and disgusting patch of snow that is left after a long winter of people not cleaning up after themselves or their dogs, and wondering about the purpose of life.
You can't find a place to sit down because the pervasive mist that has been clinging to everything like a fart that won't go away for the last three days has left all horizontal surfaces wet and at a steady 42 degrees F. You think of street people. You could be a street person. You have no car and no place to be. You can't go into a store, you can't sit down, and maybe can't pay the car bill. Hmmm.
Let's go back down by the river.
Looking very closely, you start to see signs of life. The tiniest of the tiny pussy-willow tops are just barely starting to cap through the buds. It's almost a relief.

Still, the signs of winter's decay are everywhere. The buckthorn berries that most of the animals know better than to eat (a powerful laxative, even for caterpillars) have rotted on the vine. There's something incongrous about those glossy mal-formed wet black berries with their perfectly formed water droplets reflecting the fence behind them. Even decay can have it's redeeming qualities, I guess.
What looked like a branch that was extremely chewed-on by rabbits from a distance turned out upon closer inspection to be a branch with what I believe is called "spray-paint" or Crustose lichen. I could be wrong about this, it could also be one of the Squamulose lichens, or others, there are a lot of lichens, and I'm not an expert. Some require a microscope for absolute ID. It was interesting though, because earlier I did see some branches that were gnawed by rabbits, and I was at first trying to figure out what type of tree they were eating. Looked like a maybe type of cherry, or low-bush berry shrub. At first I couldn't figure out what could have been eating the bark so high up on the tree, it was like three feet above the ground. No deer around here. Then a collection of rabbit pellets made me realize that snow had been that high or higher at it's peak, perfect for lounging and munching by our friends in the genus Sylvilagus or 'Cottontail.'

More wandering and staring blankly brings us to the Ford Hydro Dam, once used to primarily power the Ford automtive plant, still used, but not to the previous capacity.
It is said that it was placed in this spot along the river to be close to the pure white sand that was eventually made into Ford windshields on the premises.
There is an old turbine on display at one of the pull-offs from the Parkway, an intriguiging hunk of iron, probably put on display there because they couldn't drag it any further.
It has helical fins with these intersting 'wear-patterns' in about the same place on all of them. I wish they would talk about them on their sign.
It seems like they are at a point of maximum friction on the wheel, it has made these ornately shaped 'barbs' that are worn into the edge of the fins.

Perhaps they are from a weld, where there is a mix of materials, or just a pattern from the moving water and abrasives in the river water being forced to the outside, I don't know.
I have photographed this piece many times, both in black & white and color, and never seem to get exactly what my mind's eye sees.
I was surpised to see from the sign that it weighs 15 tons. It looks pretty svelt and I wouldn't have guessed it a pound over 2 or 3 tons.
The spot I like over here is this row that has these ancient spruces on one side, and oaks on the other. It's like a golf course fairway. The conifers have to be at least 50 feet high. We often see Peregrine falcons in the oaks here as they have nest boxes on the Ford plant's chimmey's nearby.
It's one of spots where you would never know you were in a big city. The busy Parkway is right on the other side of the tall trees.
Okay, after picking up a bunch of litter and off-loading that and my dog poop into the one recepticle I can find for miles, it's time to head back to the car place again. Fingers crossed... Yes! It's back outside, in a different spot.
I put Hap in the car, give him a treat and cringe my way through blaring daytime TV in the waiting area of the shop while I hurriedly put the damn thing on my credit card and get the hell out of there.
Hap is whupped, he has a treat and is collapsed on the seat next to me.
My back is sore from standing too much and carrying the camera pack. I drive away.
And lo and behold, halfway over the Ford Bridge, my car begins making the same noise I had brought it in for yet again... Cars; adventures in entropy.
I flip off the Ford Plant and head for home.

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