Pennsylvania Smith and the Lost Gardens of Kitschylawn


With Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull coming out soon, my thoughts have turned to those of adventure, archaeology… and goose-shaped lawn ornaments.

Er... I probably should explain.

It's spring, and the neighborhood lawns are being trimmed, dug, planted and bedazzled with popular yard decor. And it occurred to me-- as I was tucking a plastic cherub behind a shrubbery myself-- that thousands of years from now, we’re going to be judged by these things we showcased. Our ancestors will look at our lawns and gardens and everything in them as a microcosm of our culture. And it's going to be pretty freakin' hard to explain some of this stuff.

So join me today, at that very moment when the leading archaeologist of the far future—we’ll call him Dr. Howard "Pennsylvania" Smith-- holds his first press conference to tell the world about the fascinating garden he has uncovered, dating back all the way to the mysterious and magical year-- 2008.


PENNSYLVANIA SMITH: I'd like to thank you all for being here today. This dig was the thrill of a lifetime for my colleagues and I. Never in the history of our excavations have we found a garden from the early 2000's so untouched, so intact. And I know the academic community is abuzz with curiosity, so we wanted to share with you today some of the more intriguing items we've discovered so far.

The first thing we uncovered is... well... personally, one of my favorites. What you see here is a polymer statue depicting some kind of large ancient waterfowl. Possibly what was known as a 'goose.'

The unique thing about this particular object—and this hasn’t been seen before in other digs in this region-- is that it’s wearing what looks like the remnants of small human clothes-- a behavior not currently exhibited in our own modern waterfowl.

Yes, you can see, it appears as if it’s been intentionally dressed in yellow rain gear.

Er... we haven't quite figured out the purpose of this. Possibly it's a totem of worship, a symbol to appease the rain gods.

We’re in the process of verifying whether any of the major religions of the Appalachian region featured a deity who appeared in the guise of a bird as a symbol of, say, harvest or growth... So, that's certainly something we're looking into now, and we hope to have more information for you in the future.

Moving on-- next, we have this wooden effigy of a female in a bent or crouching position...

The original paint on the plaque or sign indicates popular clothing of the era for these ancient people included short red polka-dotted gowns and ruffled underclothing.

Now if this piece is any indicator, standards of female beauty may have been such at the time that excess fat was considered a sign of both wealth and power...

And the upturned posterior may be symbolic of fertility. This, like the waterfowl statuary, will require further investigation before we can know for sure.

Okay, Steve, can you bring that over here so the folks can see? Yes, just roll it on over now... I know it's heavy...

Thanks. That's great right there.

As we got further into the site we uncovered this fascinating artifact. Now we're almost certain it's a fountain, but what we've been really focusing our efforts on is the figure on the top of it. It looks like it's a young male human-- or perhaps some sort of other enslaved population, because of its diminutive size-- but look at how it's standing. It's poised as if to be permanently... um...

Well, for the ears of the younger members of our audience... er, it appears to be, um, relieving itself into the pool of the fountain. Again, this may be some sort of fertility piece or possibly a water god. We're just not sure at this point.

Okay and lastly, we uncovered this piece. This small bearded plaster figure in a tall pointy hat...

You can still see some of the original paint on it, and the vivid colors lead us to believe that because of its bright pigments and its wizened look, this may be a replica of one of the leaders of their world.

Yes, we think this may be one of their political leaders-- possibly a popular liberator of the people at some point during their history... Because we've found, like, ten others of these over the course of the time I've been excavating, and it looks like this was one really popular guy.

Well, we'll be including all of these items and more in an upcoming piece in Global Geographic magazine, so if you're looking for more information on any of these items, you'll be able to read about it there.

And me, I've got to get back to the dig site now. We've just about got the top layer of dirt off what seems to be some kind of skeletal metal animal... a deer maybe.

It's got some very primitive wiring running through it, so it's possible that they had robotic pets or beasts of burden they used during this time period to help with odd and assorted chores. I don't know all of the details for sure. So we'll just share what we can as it unfolds.

Thank you for your time today.


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Pennsylvania Smith also uncovered the lost city of Humor-blogs.

9 comments:

chyna said...

Hey what was this guy doing in my grandma's yard?! I swear to you each and everyone of those things you've mentioned are there in stunning lack of taste. ;) However he didn't find the mini world from space. It was an indoor terranium that she dumped a strand of Christmas lights in, placed a mini deer (I think) and then to add to the obvious tackiness. Silk flowers. All under the fabulous clear plastic lid. My cousin calls it Scary World.

Jenn Thorson said...

Heh- I realized I forgot to include pink flamingos-- she have any of those? I think I've seen those kinds of terrariums-- they were from the 60s, weren't they? I've also seen coffeetables with a version of Scary World in them. Your cousin was quite right with the naming!

Alice said...

This reminded me of an archaeology class I took, where the instructor showed us an object and we had to guess its purpose. Lots of crazy answers.

Since it seemed eveyrone was about yard/garden work yesterday - are allergies killing you like they're killing me right now? At 1:30 in the morning. Waiting for the drugs to kick in.

Jenn Thorson said...

Heya, Alice- Oh, I am comprised MAINLY of sinuses-- I think it's a ratio of about 4 parts sinus to 1 part brain matter. So I can totally sympathize.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe she has flamingos however the silk flowers are also in the flower beds and she has one of those lit up arches you see at weddings at the gate. Complete with Christmas lights that she just globbed on. Honestly it looks like she took them out of the box in that accordian thing they do and just tosses them at the arch. Then you stroll up the sidewalk that she has carpeted with outdoor carpet up to the mini deck she has the runway light plugged into an indoor surge protector (eek) past the misc geese in various stages of undress and to the door. I try to get her tasteful things for Christmas for out there but she always finds ways to tacky them up. sigh And I just can't buy tacky stuff for her with a clear conscience. :)

chyna said...

That was me Jenn, I hit the post button before signing my name. Maybe that is my form of witness protection. LOL

Jenn Thorson said...

Oh, she DOES have the geese! Wow, she sure did make the rounds with lawn ornamania, didn't she?

Well, hey, if it makes her happy, it's harmless fun. And just think how fondly you'll feel when you see questionable lawn art years from now. :)

"Geese in various stages of dress"... aw, bless 'er! :)

Greg said...

Interesting that, in the future, no connection remains between garden-variety gnomes and travel agencies.

I just love those Bending Over ladies decorations...in other folks' yards...

Bunnies and chicks and frogs and leprachauns here, though!!

; )

Jenn Thorson said...

Greg- I have to say, I actually really LIKE the Travelocity ads...

Watching him get shocked by the electric outlet, tossed over the falls, bungee jumping, etc., satisfies the old Warner Brothers need to watch Daffy Duck's bill get blown to the side of his head.

But no, there is no Travelocity in the future. :)