A man-made object

This post was inspired by Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge for last week. I’m not entering my post in the challenge because I couldn’t find a way to make the photo interesting! But I wanted to share the story behind the object I chose.

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When I take my walks down to the lake in the mornings – sometimes very early, before sunup – I feel comfortable taking along something that I could, theoretically, defend myself with. It used to be my old driftwood walking stick (which I still own and love), and then it was the folding fisherman’s knife that I found amongst my sister’s collection of miscellany.

I was desperately sad when I lost that knife – and I’m still semi convinced that if I look hard enough for it, I’ll find it somewhere inside my house, but so far I haven’t put in the serious effort.

Not long after I lost the knife, I was walking along the horse trail east of Negro Bar, passing through an oak-shaded area I call my lovely little cove, when I paused for some reason – maybe to pull stickers out of my socks – and happened to glance up in a nearby tree. There was a long rod of some sort hanging suspended in the branches, close enough for me to grab it and pull it down.

It was black, roughly 20 inches long, a hard molded plastic with a weighted handle at one end and a threaded ‘male’ insert on the other. I knew what it was; but I couldn’t work out how the top portion of a hiking pole wound up in a tree with the remaining piece(s) nowhere in sight.

Either way, I decided I shouldn’t leave it lying around, another bit of rubbish littering the trail. I carried it with me for the rest of my walk that day, with every intention of tossing it into the next garbage can I saw. But for some reason, it felt pretty good in my hand. It wasn’t too heavy, and even though it was too short to use as a normal walking stick, I began to realise there were plenty of potential uses for this thing.

This morning I was under the Natoma Crossing bridge when I noticed a man jogging nearby on the dirt trail. We greeted each other as we passed. I was surprised when he stopped and came back to me, asking me quite earnestly where I’d gotten my stick. I told him about finding it in a tree. He really admired the thing and told me he’d like to find something similar he could carry with him on his runs. This was primarily because he’d very recently had a confrontation with a wild turkey — on the other side of the lake, he hastened to assure me – which took his jogging past as a threat to her brood of chicks and had charged him not once, but twice.

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I hope he finds something he can carry for protection! Thus far I haven’t had any trouble with the local wildlife, but hearing this guy’s story made me even more glad I’d decided to hang onto this particular discard. Ever since the day I found it in the tree, I’ve carried my plastic stick on every morning walk. It’s become a counterbalance when I’m walking on treacherous terrain, a sort of cow-catcher to move aside thorny branches or other troublesome plants, a climbers axe when I’m crawling up or down a steep slope, a sword or a club in case I need to defend myself, a monopod for my camera, a pointer, an exercise device to help me pull my shoulders back and straighten my spine… the list seems to go on and on. I’d feel quite lost without it.


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