I’ve been away for a few days – not away from home, just away from the keyboard. I’ve written before about our limited internet access, and this was another of those months when we had more month left at the end of our data. I felt like I was grounded from the computer, but I filled the time by getting caught up on laundry and other household duties, and I helped David in the yard.
I spent one morning picking up trash. I think we’re the first residents of this property who pay to have our trash hauled off. Since we’re outside the city limits, it’s legal to burn unless there’s a ban on because of extreme heat and/or drought. Former residents of our 2+ acres took full advantage of that right.
When we first got here, there were piles of trash that didn’t make it to the burn pile. There were a couple of old tires, a bed spring, car parts, construction refuse, and lots more. We’re allowed 2 containers and one extra bag of trash per week, so in the beginning we had to ration our garbage work, stuffing our allotted containers as full as possible and then waiting until the next week to continue.
The visible trash has been gone for a while, but there are still a few burn piles with lots of buried stuff waiting to be exposed by the wind, the rain or me. This week I went out with a bucket instead of a barrel and, armed with a couple of garden tools, I spent an hour or so digging out bits of broken glass, rusted pieces of metal, unidentifiable pieces of plastic, and other non-combustibles.
It’s tedious, mindless work, but there’s a sense of accomplishment. Each piece of glass or metal I remove is one less hazard to be stepped on or run over by the lawn mower. After clearing a pile of obstacles, I can level humps, fill in holes, plant grass, and otherwise reclaim eyesores. The job has some entertainment value, too. I’ve discovered what brands of soft drinks our predecessors preferred, what kind of toys their children played with, and other things about their personal lives that are really none of my business. My efforts have also turned a small profit as I have found a handful of pennies, corroded and caked with dirt but spendable nonetheless.
Mindless work also leaves time for thoughtful reflection, and as I dig out toys, shoes, broken vases, bent spoons, I wonder what these things looked like when they were new. What was special enough that someone handed over hard-earned money for the privilege of taking that particular treasure home? And
what happened to that treasure to make it worth nothing more than being buried under a pile of half-burned garbage and dirt?
It reminds me of David’s favorite Garfield cartoon. Jon is wearing a HUGE cowboy hat that swallows his head, and Garfield is looking at him with his signature smirk. The caption reads, “It’s amazing what some people would rather have than money.”
It also makes me think about what Jesus said about treasures:
Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Matthew 6:19-21
Sitting here at my computer, I can see several shelves and cabinets where some of my earthly treasures are stored. I have a small collection of angels, not worth much money, but each one has a story about where I found it or who gave it to me. I also have a few serving pieces I inherited from Mom. My favorite is a brown crockery bowl she used when she made banana pudding, one of my favorites. These things mean a lot to me, but when I’m gone, the stories that make them special will be forgotten.
When Mom and Dad moved into assisted living, I went through all their belongings, sorting out what was to be saved, donated, or trashed. I knew the history of some things, but even they didn’t remember why most of the stuff had once been important. When they passed away a couple of years later, my brother and I went through what was left, selling some of it in garage sales and donating the rest, all of it going to strangers who had no idea where it came from.
I’ve never been a big shopper, but I’ve been known to indulge in an impulse purchase that later made me wonder what was I thinking? After the experience of closing Mom and Dad’s estate, and after months of digging around in my back yard, I’ve becoming a much more discriminating shopper. When I pick up an item and think about taking it home, I try to think Will this become a treasure to be loved and cherished, or will it become a broken piece of trash to be buried under a pile of dirt and other people’s garbage?