Saturday, April 10, 2010

Radio Prairie and the birth of Possumhaw Plant Electrics, Inc.

It is a gloriously sunny afternoon in the Bernheim prairie. Shadows are getting longer and the light is turning golden. A visitor is approaching with his 6 year old son as I'm spreading out an array of little antennae, untwisting wires, and hooking up my crystal radio to a prairie plant that is blackened by a recent controlled burn.

Visitor: (nodding) Hi there.
Me: Hi!
Kid: ...what are you doing?
Me: Oh, I'm seeing if I can get radio signals from these prairie plants.
Kid: (pointing at crystal radio) What's that?
Me: (with a grin) That's a radio I built--doesn't it look funny?
Kid: (giggle) That doesn't look like a radio!
Me: I know, not like a normal one! This is sort of an old fashioned kind.
Visitor: (with a laugh) getting anything?
Me: Not yet, but I anticipate that I'll get some interesting signals.
Visitor: What does it sound like? Do you hear radio stations?
Me: Sort of! But it's incredibly faint--you have to have a trained ear!
Visitor: Hmm. (laughing) Is this something you often do?
Me: Oh, well, I was hired by Bernheim to test radio waves among these plants, and I run my own business called Possumhaw Plant Electrics. We're based in New York and travel around the country to do this sort of work.
Kid: (Gently tugging man's sleeve, whispering)... come on, Dad!
Visitor: (again, chuckling) Well, good luck to yeh.
Me: Bye, then! Have a good afternoon!
Kid: (to his dad, as the two are walking away) That didn't look like a radio!


  1. You should have told them PPE was in the process of hiring locals for well-paid positions. I am sure the guy would have been more interested then.

  2. Had the kid’s grandpa been along, he’d have recognized the radio immediately. I built a few back in the day and it looks like this one’s tuned to okra.