Saturday, May 9, 2009
Spring has Sprung, Midden Arrives
It is spring clean-up week-end in my neighborhood. Excuse me! I mean it is our annual Spring Clean-Up Program weekend. Each year in April and May, our town schedules a series of special, free Saturday garbage collection days with different areas of town assigned to different Saturdays.
For about a week before your Saturday, your neighbors start setting junk out on their curbs. An amazing variety of debris bubbles up out of basements, rolls out of attics and floats out of garages. The sidewalks and parkways become littered with two-by-fours and broken trellises, porcelain toilet bowls and defunct Shop-Vacs. Mattresses and cushions and pads of all descriptions are piled about. Last night on the way to dinner, I spotted a garish green tarp appropriate for sheltering a Cormac McCarthy character. That, along with half a set of TV trays on their stand looking incomplete but solid. Recently acceptable furnishings mix with perfectly useless scree.
The result makes the entire area look at bit like a midden for a few days, distracting painfully from the seasonal glory of newly leafing trees and brushes and bursting blossoms in every direction.
My neighborhood usually gets assigned to Mothers’ Day Saturday. And in my family, two family birthdays also fall right around Mothers’ Day. So I am usually planning to entertain on Mothers’ Day Sunday. As the refuse and detritus accumulates, I send up silent fretful prayers to the village demigods not to fail the Saturday promise. I really don’t want my guests confronted by my neighbors’ mounts of trash.
The flotsam and jetsam attract an odd fleet of vehicles. As the day approaches, scavengers prowl in their dilapidated but business-like pick-ups, trucking off a good deal of the truck. I welcome these wily and perhaps wise operators, who seem to know how to salvage all that is useful in these piles of debris. The idea that someone can put the stuff to use pleases me quite a lot.
Mostly. But I had one melancholy moment in the midst of this annual event. Glancing out my window yesterday, I noticed an old, battered, dull-burgundy van parked at my curb; looking closer I could see a bent little old man and woman picking through the already picked-over heap on the parkway across my street. I wish I could believe they would find what they need.