At least that is what has been happening for the last two weeks in our neighborhood—new gas lines that will eventually be hooked up to an outside gas meter. One of the workers said that the new pipe will replace some pipe that was laid when Abraham Lincoln was still President. (Peoples Gas was the first utility in Chicago in 1850, lighting the streets with natural gas. At the World’s Columbiam Exposition, where electricity was first introduced, Peoples Gas shifted its focus to cooking.)
These guys really work. I watched them last week across the street cut through some stubborn roots in their way with an axe. They hacked away for some twenty minutes, chips flying everywhere. There’s a pressurized pipe they use that blows the dirt out of a hole, sometimes leaving the neighborhood looking and tasting like a dust storm on the Kalahari, and an industrial vacuum that sucks up all the dirt and debris, caused by the pressurized pipe. This afternoon their drill got stuck in old street light wires and a worker was down in a hole working to remove them. And did I mention all the noise?
In the hole they made in front of our house near our new Turkish Filbert tree, they dug up an old street brick and chopped out some of the roots from the previous old Silver Maple which the Filbert replaced. The brick is from the Bessemer Brick Company out of Youngstown Ohio which was in existence between 1900 and 1917 (our house was built in 1914) and was quite famous for the quality of their street bricks (if you believe their advertisements—something to do with the quality of shale in the limestone mixture). Of course, these items are now sitting in our living room and we’ll need to decide how to use them in our art. I’m thinking the end cut of the root might make a nice surface for a small wood cut. JB is thinking of mounting a Buddha he carved from a piece of the silver maple that was taken down over a year ago, on top of the Bessemer brick.
Sometimes it’s really important to bring what is underground into the light of day even while engaging in putting more resources beneath. Sometimes it is important to expose roots because it leaves room for new and refreshed foundations. Sometimes even the gas company has this sacred duty.
(photo at top of post by JB)