My husband came out for supper on Saturday night (he is NOT a camper - not that he CAN'T camp, actually, he could survive quite well if he HAD to, but he'd rather just not have to) and laughingly told me I was "in my element". Which I take as a great compliment. I like camping. It is uncomfortable at times, but I really do like the fresh air and the experience in general.
Anyhow, we went on a 2-hour plus long nature hike with the 5-7 year old Beavers. It was grand - crossed the creek on fallen trees both ways, found lots of trees cut down by actual beavers (some VERY large ones), found ant hills galore, and saw a porcupine climbing a tree. I'd never seen a porcupine in the wild before, and frankly didn't know they climbed trees. He wasn't going very fast, but he managed. Koodos to the Beaver leader, Steve, for finding such a wonderful hike. I'm sure I wouldn't have taken them so far, and it was good for all of them.
By the end of it, though, it had turned into a bit of a trail of tears. Between the kids who were stressed about crossing the creeks, the one who got injured (and complained about crossing the creek), the ones who were hungry, and the ones who were just plain tired, they were all relieved to get back to camp (funny, I thought they would have fallen asleep before midnight, but ... sadly ... no).
Anyhow, about 5 minutes into our hike, we passed by a very large piece of ceramic pipe on the ground. I'd never seen one that large - only smaller fragments at sites. So when we were returning and were just upslope from where I'd seen the pipe, I made a detour and grabbed it. I know, I really shouldn't have taken it. If it were a prehistoric artifact I never would have because that would be illegal. But I did take it home. My apologies to the archaeological community.
Anyhow, when I got it home - by the way, it probably weighs 20-30 pounds and was a bitch to carry up a steep slope - I took a good look at it. It's about two feet long, an inch thick and has "Red Wing" imprinted on the side:
Red Wing is a town in Massachusettes that had a number of potteries. I assume that the "Red Wing" stamped on mine meant that it came from the Red Wing Stoneware Company that was in operation from the 1870s until around 1970. There is a group called the Red Wing Collectors Society Inc. and they were happy to answer my question on when the Stoneware company made pipe - the entire time the company was in business, it seems (or at least soon after it started - the answer they gave was "The late 1800s until the 1970s").
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this huge piece of stoneware pipe, but it will undoubtedly take it's place somewhere in the garden. Maybe as a stepping stone, maybe as pure decoration. But I LOVE it!!