Monday, February 23, 2009

Telephone Poles

I noticed this line of telephone poles the other day while wandering around Monterey Hills. Wires in a digital age...

I wonder if images like this will someday be as quaint and far away as pictures of gas lamps and horse-drawn carriages. While I certainly love the cool convenience of my Razr -- and admit to secretly coveting a friend's iPhone -- there is something so stalwart and romantic about telephone poles. I think Carl Sandburg identified the soul inside the structure when he wrote this:

Under A Telephone Pole

I AM a copper wire slung in the air,
Slim against the sun I make not even a clear line of shadow.
Night and day I keep singing--humming and thrumming:
It is love and war and money; it is the fighting and the
tears, the work and want,
Death and laughter of men and women passing through
me, carrier of your speech,
In the rain and the wet dripping,
in the dawn and the
shine drying,
A copper wire.

26 comments:

Cafe Pasadena said...

iLove all the wood & green. A pole to some. But once a tree, always a tree.

Support our trees before you have only a forest left to see them.

dbdubya said...

Not to be too picky, but the correct term is "power pole," not "telephone pole." I got corected many years ago by an old friend who worked for LADWP.

These poles are owned by Edison. They actually mark the southern border of South Pasadena, with Los Angeles to the left of the poles in the photo.

If you've wondered why the poles wander through town east of Fair Oaks in the narrow strip of land, that's an old railroad right-of-way, long since abandoned by the railroad, and now owned by Edison.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I have a power pole at the bottom of my property. Several lines chris cross through my air space. The squirrels consider it a right away between the walnut tree and my rooftop. The red tailed hawks like to land on top of my pole where they proceed to bash their prey to death. On the upside, I get the x-tra land that extends my border line.
I love this photograph. The purples in the dried bush are so pretty.

Hilda said...

Uh, you can have the poles and cables. They're an absolute mess in Manila and I can't wait for all of them to disappear!

But never mind the poles — I love the lilac color among the greenery! What is it?
--
Don't forget to vote for the April theme! We get two choices this time, thanks to Elaine. Please help spread the word too.

Sharon said...

There are some interesting colors in the shot! There appears to be a purple haze in the valley.

Tanya said...

All that purple drew me in...what is it?

I call them telephone poles too, and interesting to think about their lack of existence on day...

Judy Williams said...

Isn't it funny, but I didn't even notice the poles. I was thinking "wow, that is the color palette of Monet's paintings at Giverny."

I forget about Carl Sandberg. What a perfect poem to accompany this lavender and green beauty!!

Yakpate said...

What Judy said! I was so enamored of all that purple that I didn't even notice the poles until I read the post!

I love the poem, too... I wonder what Sandburg would write about the iphone...

Petrea said...

It does look like lavender or something. Pretty! But despite Sandburg's lovely words, I look forward to the demise of the wire.

Virginia said...

Gorgeous colors. Yes, Judy is right, very Monet. Love the poem as well. This is a winner girl!
V

altadenahiker said...

Who thought telephone poles could look romantic? But they do cut a trail of a different sort.

Linda Dove said...

Yes, I love the look of the lavender fields cutting right through the city...and I think the correct term is whatever Carl Sandburg says it is. Call me self-inclined, but I'd rather have a poet be my authority on this than the LADWP.

dbdubya said...

I see that you are a poet, Linda, so I understand why you would prefer another poet's term to describe these poles. But power poles are owned by the power company and the phone and cable companies lease space on them.

Some people don't like poles and lines above ground and would rather have them underground. I find them nostalgic in older neighborhoods and think that they add to the character of a community. Underground utilities are fine for Irvine, Valencia, and other newer cities, but overhead lines and old, creosote soaked poles blend in well with the scenery in South Pasadena. Like potholes and cracked and broken sidewalks, they help define the personality of this town.

Laurie said...

Ah, correct terms. Somehow the contemporary "power pole" doesn't evoke the same 20th Century nostalgia as "telephone pole." I tend to side with poetic descriptions. Dreyfus wrote from Devil's Island that he saw "the most glorious birds" from his captivity. Much later he realized they had only been sea gulls... As Ruth Gordon said in Harold and Maude, "For me they will always be glorious birds."

And for me, they will always be telephone poles!

Virginia said...

Darn right they're telephone poles!
V

San Diego Farmgirl said...

Power or telephone, Sandburg's poem has the same message: our souls, reduced to a wire. Jeez, at least a wire is tangible. These days we've been reduced to something digital, eh?

LSaeta said...

I love the purple in this photo but I am still mad at the power company for deciding to replace a "power pole" last week and subsequently shutting off our power for 12 hours ... with no advance warning. Your painting makes me realize there is beauty in anything (and everything)!

Mister Earl said...

I keep hearing in my head:

I am a lineman for the county.
And I drive the mainroad.
Lookin' in the sun for another overload.

I hear you singing in the wire.
I can hear you thru the whine.
And the Wichita Lineman,
is still on the line.

I know I need a small vacation.
But it don't look like rain.
And if it snows that stretch down south,
won't ever stand the strain.

And I need you more than want you.
And I want you for all time.
And the Wichita Lineman,
is still on the line.

dbdubya said...

Mr. Earl -

By the time I get to Phoenix. . .

You know the rest.

Kim said...

I'm with Hilda in wondering about the purple colored brush. It looks absolutely lovely. . .like something from the heaths of England. Love your thoughts on these poles. I do think they will (even now do) look quaint, but hey, when you are out taking some shots, don't you wish they would just disappear? I'm learning to embrace them in my photos. Yours makes them the star and its way cool. I wonder how long it has been since copper wire was abandoned for fiber optics and the like?
-Kim
Seattle Daily Photo

Sumi Ko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shanna said...

Wonderful poem!
I like calling them telephone poles. It is so much more descriptive. Other words come to mind.
Does anyone remember Telegrams? How about teletype machines? Television, of course, and telescope, and if we're on the same wave length - telepathy.

Mister Earl said...

AH: Telephone poles look very romantic (or at least very cool) on a model train layout.

USelaine said...

Hmm. My mom's place has telephone service, but has never had power. The lines used to be on poles, but now are underground. So the poles leading up to her property were indeed "telephone poles". There is still just one, where the line comes up from the ground, then connects overhead to her house.

Your shot of these makes them look so elegant, like matched chandeliers. But put me in the undergrounding camp.

Laurie said...

Thanks for all the comments today, kids.

Welcome Linda Dove!

My husband is definitely in the underground-is-better-for-wires-and-cables camp. But I still think telephone poles are inspirational. (John Updike did, too...)

To answer the question about that lovely purple growing stuff on the hillside... I have no idea! I think I need to go back up into the hills and zoom in.

Stay tuned!

Thanks for the wonderful commentary, everyone. Until tomorrow.

Cafe Pasadena said...

Power to The Pole