The rusting herd of Route 97

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A herd of strange animals has taken up permanent residence on a steep hill next to NY-97 between Port Jervis and Sparrow Bush NY. If you’ve been that way yourself, maybe you noticed a handful of the larger creatures as you passed, a dolphin leaping above a yellow elephant, a white goat about to get back to the business of grazing after looking up at the sound of your passing car. But pull over along the muddy shoulder and you’ll find yourself wandering amidst a menagerie of sea and land creatures in suspended animation, frozen, it seems, in the act descending the hill en masse, their dozens of unblinking eyes staring back at you from the wood line.

All their body parts, from trunks, to fangs, to hoofs, existed previously in another form with another purpose. They are a collection of old machinery (chainsaw blades, flywheels, oil drums, rebar, a municipal drain cover, dimantled machine frames) reincarnated, and from their appearance they have been standing vigil for many years now. Though brightly hued, their welded forms show every bit their age. Rust has formed around the more delicate facial details, and in some areas their enamel has bubbled and flaked. These feel less like blemishes, though, than proudly worn scars from years of dutiful service.

Why are they here? That may forever be known solely to the animals themselves. The man who created this technicolor herd requested not to be named or interviewed. Perhaps they serve as reminders that even the roughest of industrial scraps can be reshaped and given new purpose, a literal and figurative roadside lesson.

Or else they simply exist because they can, and maybe that is as good a reason as any.

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