On the road…. again!!!
Afghanistan to Zambia
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek
Recycle Trees, Too
Not everyone gets to recycle a dying sugar maple tree and convert it into a magnificent sculpture like the one shown below. But we are happy that Ray Langer knew what to do with his declining maple; and he did it. The hand carved American Eagle stump now proudly standing adjacent to Aten Road near Imperial, Pennsylvania once shaded the front lawn of his property and a portion of the nearby roadway where motorists rounded the bend heading to the top of the hill.
Because Ray as owner had an appreciation for the past, he decided to save the stump after the sick tree was cut down; and now allows it to serve a new role on the lawn in front of his house. Nowadays, he and his wife enjoy the sugar maple sculpture on a daily basis; and passing motorists are treated to the magnificent silhouette of the bird's proud beak as they drive by.
The choice of the angle to display his beak at the bending of the road was no accident. The sculpture artist knew exactly what he was doing when he chiseled the stump into its final configuration. Anything less than the silhouetted beak as you approach might have been wasted on most people who could easily fail to notice the mastery of its positioning.
Perhaps by paying respect for the past history of his own land and for the oil and gas wells that he watched over there, Ray Langer was making a personal statement about the other resources he was entrusted with. That may very well be the case, for every few years Ray conscientiously applies a coat or two of varnish to keep the American Eagle stump looking fresh.
If the name of Ray Langer seems familiar, his legacy of personal trophies also include the oil and gas wells that are featured in the chronicle entitled, "On Oil and Gas Wells", as part of the local lore in the foothills in Western Pennsylvania.
The flame of burning methane just outside the residence of Ray Langer up the hill to the right, is testimony that both natural gas and oil continue to seep from the ground in the hills of Western Pennsylvania where Ray grew up. And from his front porch and down the hill to his left, the active oil well next to the Marriott Hotel is visible, so casual visitors can see the past and the present in one sweeping glance. Needless to say, the American Eagle sculpture represents both the past and the present. May it also have a proud future.
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Finally, the passing of time and the unrelenting assault on the maple tree stump sculpture by insects and soil organisms led to the demise of the American Eagle. Nonetheless, in its place stands a colorful flower planter that has the original maple tree as its base.