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Kansas man finds a mythical-looking ax with a root for a handle in his front yard

Matthew Decker discovered this ax with a root for a handle in his front yard.
Matthew Decker
/
Reddit
Matthew Decker discovered this ax with a root for a handle in his front yard.

Matthew Decker had just gotten back from the store with his wife when he discovered an object stuck in the mud that looked like it was plucked right out of the Marvel Universe.

There had been a heavy rain and wind storm so the couple was racing to get inside their Kansas home when Decker spotted a peculiar-looking ax in his front lawn.

"We jumped out and I gave it a good few kicks and uncovered more root. Then I grabbed it and gave it a strong bend and snap, there it was," Decker told NPR. "I took it inside, gave it a wash and held it up to the light with wide eyes. I had never done anything like this before and I was astonished."

Matthew Decker shows off an ax he found in his front yard with a root handle.
/ Matthew Decker/Reddit
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Matthew Decker/Reddit
Matthew Decker shows off an ax he found in his front yard with a root handle.

If you're wondering if this ax with a root for a handle has any special powers, none have been found yet. But Decker said when he first held the ax it just had a magical feeling to it.

"I'm a huge Lord of the Rings fan and avid Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and Oblivion player, so I was stoked. From the very first moment I picked it up it had a very special weight to it."

One person very familiar with roots is Brian Kane, a Massachusetts Arborist Association professor at the University of Massachusetts, who took a look at the images of the ax to assess its authenticity.

"It's certainly possible for this to happen, it's hard to know for sure whether it hasn't been photoshopped, if it had been whoever did it did a great job," Kane told NPR. "The root appears to be growing in a way that one would expect it would, giving it obstacles like the ax head in its way. Roots are basically growing longer and branching out like branches on the top parts of trees as long as there is water, moisture and soil."

Matthew Decker shows the size of the ax for scale.
/ Matthew Decker/Reddit
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Matthew Decker/Reddit
Matthew Decker shows the size of the ax for scale.

Kane was unsure what the odds were of this sort of pairing happening in nature. He said that "if there was an area where the ax head was left on the ground and it got covered up by the soil it is perfectly reasonable that a root would have found its way to the handle."

Kane pointed to the top and bottom parts of the ax head in the image to see how the root was connected.

"What you can see is kind of like a little bit of swollen tissue that follows the line of the ax head. That's exactly what you would expect to happen if a root was growing and detected something in its way. Like a root growing around a rock," he added.

Decker placed the ax in his closet for a good week before deciding that an image of his new-found item had to be shared. He took a photo of the ax and posted it on Reddit where it shot to the top of the front page Thursday.

"The attention it's getting is wild! I never expected it!" I've never had a post go viral before so I was taken aback!"

Decker said he plans to sell the ax to pocket some much-needed cash.

"I love it dearly but our car hasn't been doing too well lately, and we're paycheck to paycheck as it is," he said. "So I'm hoping for a sweet deal on it, probably take it to a museum or an antique store. I'm not totally sure yet. But I'm appreciating every moment with it right now until it's gone, that's for sure."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Matt Adams
Matt Adams is an Audience Engagement Strategist at NPR, where he is always thinking of how a broadcast company can do more on the internet. His focus is on social media strategy and how to connect NPR with new audiences in creative ways, from community building to social audio.