Hay: A 45 gallon barrel and box of matches

I have many many important jobs around the house. OK, make that quite a few important jobs. All right, so I have one or two tasks that I am tacitly or otherwise responsible for around our place. Most of the time.

Definitely removing spiders, bees, flies, ants, relatives, and other wild animals from inside the house. Occasionally shoveling the sidewalk (winter, spring, summer and fall). Often unloading the dishwasher (winter, spring, summer and fall). And my least favourite: taking out the garbage.

Time was, none of us had the extra duty and exhausting effort required to also put out blue boxes filled with the flotsam and jetsam of our wasted lives, sorry, I meant wasteful lives — back when town dumps were quaint little smelly places populated by hordes of soaring craphawks (seagulls) and gangs of curious kids snooping around.

Now dumps are called “landfills,” because they are large and elaborate plots of land filled with our daily debris. Visiting a modern landfill is much more formal (and expensive) than it used to be. Swing arm gates and weigh scales and assigned areas for various categories of trash such as dead appliances area, toxic and radioactive paint and chemicals area, two month-old obsolete computers area etc. Not so many kids hanging around anymore, but still a pretty good stink if the conditions are ripe, and still multitudes of craphawks that are no doubt the direct relatives of the ones that were hanging around the dump when you were a kid.

And now, of course, there are complete industries dedicated to dealing with the stuff we throw out but aren’t suitable for burial. Now we have “recycling plants.” And I don’t mean “recycling plants” in the sense that you give your split leaf philodendron to your sister when you don’t want it anymore. And thank goodness somebody does that because if you took all the stuff that we all recycle every week and put all the bits and pieces end to end in a long line, you would be very tired. And also a moron, because the recycling people would have to pick it all up again.

Back in the day, when life was simple and serene and all you had to worry about was who was on Ed Sullivan on Sunday, and whether the your dad’s old Ford was going start and whether the Russians were going to start a nuclear war, garbage day consisted of an oddly enjoyable ritual of fire.

Back in Parkvale several millenniums ago I was a kid and one of my major chores that allowed me to score my meager allowance consisting of one or two coins a week was garbage. As in taking it out. The best part was my dog Bim would come along and help me haul stuff out to the 45 gallon drum situated way at the back of the yard. And the other best part was burning the garbage in the barrel. It was so much fun that it’s a wonder I didn’t start our neighbor Mr. Middlemeyer’s hedge on fire. Not even once.

The dumb part was that Bim and I would usually spill half of the trash on the ground and then I’d actually have to touch some garbage with my fingers. Ewww. But we’d wisely leave most of it on the ground to blow away or possibly biodegrade.

So I vote for making garbage day fun again. All we need is a 45-gallon barrel and a box of matches.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author.

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