Saturday, June 03, 2006

Letting Go

This weekend is "Spring Cleaning Weekend" in our little city.

All the oversized junk that a household wants to get rid of can be put out on the curb, and for free, an anonymous dump truck will carry the stuff away.

Obvious candidates for "Spring Cleanup" are the roll-down sun-shades from last year that one of the winter storms violently ripped off its moorings and flung to the patio; the disgusting rusted cheap folding chairs that no one wants to sit in anymore; the faithful wheelbarrow that just fell apart last fall with no intact area to repair any more.

The stacks of growers' pots from many shrubs -- I haven't started plants in years, who am I kidding? -- those went onto the growing pile in front of the house. The failed experiment of the push-reel-mower (that "green" solution would have worked if filthy perdition-headed Sears hadn't purveyed such a shitful product, but that's a whole 'nother story); the spunky little rototiller that I no longer have use for, but definitely got my money's worth out of in the past; a broken coffee-maker, a burnt out DVD player, and a toaster whose final review was "Does Not Meet Job Requirements" all garnish the heap.

"Wait," you say, "some of those items still sound usable -- should they really be out on the discard heap?"

Well, yes. Because some of the stuff will actually be picked up by city employees early next week ... but most of it will be picked up by "gleaners" if it appears to be of any use at all.

For instance, last night a Gleaner picked up the rickety footstool I made and upholstered some (more than a decade) years ago. It had been over-used and abused and repainted and I only kept it because the upholstery matched my old rocking chair ... until putting it out last evening because I would never be able to make it sturdy and new again. Today, a Gleaner with an overloaded truck picked up the rototiller, the lawnmower, a baby stroller, and the burnt DVD player. I think they took the toaster, too.

I like the idea of "gleaning." Long, long ago in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, we "gleaned" a wonderful Duncan Pfyffe (sp?) table and chairs from someone's discards and used it for many, many years. We loved it until more pieces began to fall apart than we could fix. That same year we also found a lovely carved wooden chair that served us manfully as a decoration for a long, long time.

We don't need more money, so I hate to charge anyone for our discards. Putting out usable stuff for Gleaners -- I hope they can make money re-selling stuff.

Still, I don't find pleasure in putting out things I've loved, that will never find another home. Especially today, when I took a long, critical look at the woven rocking chair my dad bought at auction, painted, and gave to me when I was pregnant, so that I would have a comfy chair to rock the baby in. He bought it largely because it had belonged to the mother (and grandmother) of his best childhood friend. He remembered playing on it as a child. And it was something Dad just did for Me. That precious gift really started deteriorating this spring, more than 30 years after he bought it and fixed it up for me; one of the rockers broke apart, and the twisted raffia (under layers and layers of primer and paint) began popping on the back and sides, with no hope of repair.

Every time I've ever looked at the chair, what I saw was my father's love. Yet today, the time had come to let that poor, disintegrating symbol of a memory go. I know how much Dad loved me. Still, it hurts like a damn, putting the broken thing out on a pile of discards, a broken, battered, loved piece of old furniture that even the Gleaners won't want.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great entry! I have been a gleaner all my life. I think the only new thing I buy *new* regularly is underwear! There is SO MUCH available through gleaning: furniture, books, computer & parts, name it. I love the CHARACTER & PATINA that comes with used items. And, gleaning services the Earth by minimizing consumption. Celebrate gleaning!