Sunday, April 1, 2007

old school recycling

"The objects around us, the make-shifts of fishermen ashore, often made us look down to see if we were standing on terra firma. In the wells everywhere a block and tackle were used to raise the bucket, instead of a windlass, and by almost every house was laid up a spar or a plank or two full of auger-holes, saved from a wreck. The windmills were partly built of these, and they were worked into the public bridges. The light-house keeper, who was having his barn shingled, told me casually that he had made three thousand good shingles for that purpose out of a mast. You would sometimes see an old oar used for a rail. Frequently also some fairweather finery ripped off a vessel by a storm near the coast was nailed up against an outhouse."

- from Henry David Thoreau's "Cape Cod", written in the 1850's

I am not sure what is so appealing to me about ripping parts off a shipwreck and making use of them, nor what exactly is so exciting about a shipwreck. I guess tearing apart a wreck is just plain interesting because you never know what you might find. With a shipwreck, I suppose the attraction is manyfold: the drama of a storm, the actual wrecking of the ship, heroic rescue and survival stories, and lives lost. But scavenging has its own thrills, too. It's old school recycling at its finest.

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