Tuesday, January 16, 2018

And now about the chain (or part 2 of fountain pens, rocks, and a chain)

Snow day has rearranged my schedule,  so I've filled the house with music and poured myself another cuppa.

On the way to making something like this in the front garden:
We discovered these:
The large flat stone in the side pocket as it were, I thought was the queen of the stones. Here's what she looked like after she was liberated or exhumed
Every stone is a portal, but you can't always see where they've been --and hence, presumably where they'd take you. She might have been part of the old coaching inn on this site and tumbled ignominiously into the soil to make way for our house. She might have been part of the outbuildings we knew were here from the 1876 OS map or part of the horse course that was here on the 1905 map--or parts of all that. Stones get reused. It is a matter of respect as well as necessity, so here's what some of her majesty's smaller companions are doing now. Thanks to Angie's artful design they are a windbreak/cairn for an Icelandic willow. After several years in a pot, the willow has a spot of its own.

And along the way to liberating more rocks of various sizes, the chain emerged. At first a rusty nothing much at all beneath stones at all angles, making it much harder to remove. Hamish, the next member to join the 'chain gang,' thought we might have to pull it out with the teleporter, but Ivor managed to get the overlying stone out and then we worked the chain free. Heavy, about 7 feet long and a history as curious as the surrounding stones. Part of the horse course? Part of the coaching inn history? Thanks to Nona and Andrew McKay, we discovered it was the chain that goes around the sprocket of a rear delivery sail reaper. If, like me, you have no photo in your mind's data base, it looked like this:
This one is from our neighbour's collection of vintage equipment (West Greenland Contracting Castletown). The photo is by Morris. Once we knew what it was, Hamish took it in hand to get the rust off. A bit of a clean and then dragging the chain along behind his pick up truck--made a fine buffer.

Now why all this fuss about a chain? Curiosity of course. A fondness for history. An homage to the hard working people here on this site for more than 200 years. And an inherent recognition of the kind of craftsmanship my friend spoke about in his blog about the fountain pen. Something in us is drawn to that elegance, the union of necessity and imagination, that sets us apart --albeit not far--from the other animal toolmakers. 


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