Kenneth Setzer

Hey, Look at This Weird Thing I Found!

I’d like to write a couple posts about finding things. Coming across a lost or discarded item might not seem to have much to do with photography and nature, but I’ve experienced many times the feeling of finding and discovering in the outside. Nature or whatever seems to give you what you’re seeking, whether you realize it or not. At least that’s what I like to believe.

Sometimes the “gift,” if you will, is an experience, or being in the presence of a new creature. Then there are the things. Some are mundane, others really weird, cool, and interesting. I tend to be lucky in finding the latter, but it might just be my own sense of what makes something at all interesting (Most wouldn’t consider finding a dead bug a gift, but it sure can be, as long as it’s not found at the bottom of your cup of coffee).

A few years back, I got the opportunity to wander through the mud and mangroves of Biscayne Bay in South Florida. As Baynanza clean up volunteers, we were armed with garbage bags to load with the flotsam and jetsam gathered along the shore of the bay. I was with the group assigned to the Vizcaya shoreline area. I kept an eye out for a “reward” of sorts. Strewn among the styrofoam coolers, plastic bottles, and fishing paraphernalia, I knew I’d find something cool. While perched on a sheet of plywood, leaning out into the muddy mangroves, I thought I spotted a smallish piece of wood. It looked like a flat piece laying on the mud. I grabbed it, pulled, but it apparently existed mostly below the surface, à la an iceberg.

I had my fingers around a base, and I pulled. Sucking up out of the mud came this, completely upside down:

Mystery Sculpture

It was coated in mud and a bit slimy from a layer of green algae. But this was a real treasure! It’s about 8 inches tall, hand-carved wood. Hand tool marks are clearly visible (look at the carving gouge marks on the neck). The bottom, strangely, shows very rough marks, as though it were hastily sawed off of a larger piece.

Some people thought it looked Native American. Maybe because I found it so near Vizcaya (a renaissance-style museum/mansion), but it looks like an Italian renaissance-era nobleman to me. Or something quite like that. I cleaned it up with mild detergent and a toothbrush, let it dry as slowly as possible from its waterlogged state, and after a couple weeks, clear coated it. Any ideas regarding its provenience are welcome.

More finds to come!

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This entry was posted on February 7, 2012 by in anthropology, art, Discovery, exploration, imaging, photography, tropical and tagged , , , , , .

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