Dumps once a fun place to shop

I live in a community where people come to drop off things they no longer want.

I live in a community where people come to drop off things they no longer want.

We are the official home of the Super Dump. Even capital letters can’t make that a good thing, although I admit long before our little country nuisance ground turned Super, I didn’t really mind having a dump nearby. You never knew what treasures you might find.

Maybe you’re reading this and kind of cringing. Before you get all grossed out I should probably clarify that I’m not talking about ripping open garbage bags or anything like that. I’m talking about mining the open piles filled with bicycles, appliances and furniture. But that’s all in the past.

Today they have the place locked up like Fort Knox with hours posted just like they’re Wal-Mart or something. They don’t like you to take anything, even though the place is filling up to the brim and we’re supposed to be recycling. Back when we could take whatever we wanted we had never even heard of buzz words like being green or recycling or conservation — but most of us did all those things simply out of necessity and common sense.

For the artist, inventor or the mechanically gifted, the discarded piles held all kinds of possibilities. I knew of at least one gentleman who made a pretty decent living simply by hauling home appliances from the dump and tinkering with them until they hummed like new. He’d be twirling in his grave if he saw what people throw away today and how no one is allowed to rescue any of it.

Last fall we worked up enough nerve to ask a dump attendant if we could take home a little freezer to use for storing grain in for the sheep. He sighed, lifted his hard hat, gave his head a scratch and reluctantly said, “Well OK, but we’re not supposed to let people take stuff. Tell you what, on your way out give the lady at the scales a couple bucks for the candy fund and we’ll call it even.”

And so we paid to haul out a freezer that someone else had paid to haul in. In case you’re curious I should explain that the lady who runs the scales gives out candy with your receipt. I admit it’s a bit odd, giving out peppermints and bubble gum at the dump. I mean dumps are fun places to shop and all, but they don’t do much for a person’s appetite; especially during fly season. But such are the delightful eccentricities of rural life.

Speaking of eccentricities, after a recent cold snap I came up with a plan for my new garden spot. I dug out the grid paper and created a garden filled with rooms like you would find in a house.

In the “bathroom” I would put an old iron claw foot tub surrounded by medicinal plants and some scented bath herbs. In the “bedroom” I outlined a big brass bed frame anchored into the ground and filled the mattress part with roses — it would be my bed of roses. An old dresser with drawers pulled out to different degrees then filled with dirt and planted with tumbling petunias and lobelia would go perfect beside it.

The vegetable garden I sketched into the kitchen of course. If I could find an old kitchen table I could mosaic the top with tiles and then put it in the centre of the garden.

Four old chairs could go around the table with their seats turned into planters and spilling over with colourful kinds of lettuce.

An old kitchen sink would go in a corner on a stand. I could either use the sink as a planter or leave it empty and actually use it as a sink. It would be perfect for dumping root vegetables in and hosing them off before taking them into the house.

In the right hands, this garden of my frost bitten imagination could be quirky and delightful. It could be the sort of garden that would have visitors clapping their hands together and exclaiming, “What an incredible garden design!”

In my hands, visitors would be more likely to be clapping their hands over their mouth after asking, “Why are you using your garden for a dump?”

Maybe having our Super Dump closed to scavengers — or certain gardeners with over active imaginations — isn’t such a bad thing after all.

You can read past columns or check out Shannon’s new blog at www.shannonmckinnon.com