Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Burying garbage (sans pictures)

Certainly, burying garbage is not new. But my friend and spouse decided this late summer to begin to bury all vegetable garbage in our gardens. I yawned and thought about the mess that I was responsible for when I was a kid. First, we fed veggies to the pigs and when the pigs were no more we started a compost pile up under the plum trees about 30 yards from our house. That was back in the days when we "recycled" all our trash. When the weekly pickup started in the waning farm years, I washed my hands of the whole thing thinking that never again would I have to handle the stuff. Wrong. Here we go 55 years later.

My brother, Jim, has buried garbage in their back yard for years in trendy, suburban Pittsburgh. And when we visited them this summer, Aleene asked a few questions and quietly, upon our return, put together a process to do it odor (almost) free. First came the two quart container lined with a small garbage bag. Then came the strong suggestion to put my peelings, cores, coffee grounds and lettuce leaves into the bag. I was reminded when that didn't always happen. Magically, the little bag would get emptied without notice or fanfare. It was always clean, neat and fresh. Occasionally, she would report where she was burying the stuff, but I yawned and muttered an almost insincerely, "Uh-ha."

Then one day I caught her doing her stealthy deed. She was reporting that she was running out of room and I found that hard to believe. We have lots of border gardens and she had been digging in them. But, alas, she was now into the veggie garden and was lamenting where she would go next. That day changed my behavior.

Remember that the ground does not freeze here. Garbage can be buried year around. We still have carrots and bib lettuce growing in the veggie patch. She was right. So I watched her process: remove the marker stick, dig a hole, drop in the stuff, chop it up with the shovel, and close the hole. Oh yes, replace the marker stick.

When you have a friend and spouse who cooks everything and anything for you, who demands so little in exchange for a little attentive behavior, you (or at least I) look for ways I can delight her; little things, not necessarily big things. You are probably getting the drift here...within a few days I have interjected myself into the garbage burying project. "Just set it outside, I will bury it. It is my project," she says with her hands covered with flour as she begins the Thanksgiving baking. "No, I can do this to help you," says I. So out I go: find the stick, dig the hole, empty in the stuff, chop it up, then cover (I feel like a cat.)

It was when I was chopping it up with the familiar smell from my Luacres experience of over 50 years ago that I got the urge to write about burying garbage. Hope you don't mind.

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