The wind has been brutal. With the air temp in the minus 20-30 range, any wind results in a significant wind chill. We've been facing a wind out of the north that slices exposed flesh like a razor, prompting one to cover up as much as possible.
Today, when I went out to feed my dogs, I was adequately protected from the arctic blast, except for that little place between my eyes. As you may imagine, that unnamed place was cold. This weather will likely continue for a few days.
In our village, as in many others, there is no trash pick-up service. Residents either burn their garbage in a barrel (a filthy habit which pollutes the neighborhood and stinks up the town; see older post about this heinous crime against humanity), or, like myself, they take their garbage to the dump.
A village dump can be an "interesting" place; you never know what you'll find. Dump scenery may include a few dozen ravens, smoldering heaps of trash, dead dogs in various states of decay/consumption, seasonal items such as fish heads in summer, moose hide in the fall, etc. (this is trapping season so you'll often see marten carcasses; they look a lot nicer with their clothes on), and human waste; the previous contents of the infamous "honeybucket".
Today, when I went, I saw the ravens, the remains of my old sled, partially burned, lots of charred cans, and one "tourist". A tourist is not to be confused with a "shopper". This tourist visits the dump numerous times per day. He's a loney old man who's favorite pastime is riding around the village and checking out what every one has been up to. So naturally he makes semi-hourly dump visits.
He saw me driving in to drop off my garbage, so he waited out on the road. As I unloaded and set fire to my refuse (this is the approved procedure as it discourages foraging by stray dogs and ravens) the tourist attempted to appear disinterested, pretending to focus his attention on something else. But I know better; I'm familiar with his intelligence gathering techniques, as I have been for years.
When I finished and drove out from the dump, he drove his snowmachine in. He clearly did not have any trash with him, so he was not here on official business. This was a recon mission. I smiled as I watched him in the rearview mirror and drove away. The rapidly spreading flames were thwarting his investigative efforts.
If you find it...amazing, or dumb, or completely trivial, that a guy would actually drive by the dump simply to see what every one is throwing away, and that he would do this numerous times per day, I completely agree on all counts. What can I say; that's village life.
Now, as I said earlier, a dump tourist is not the same as a dump "shopper". As the name implies, a shopper visits the dump hoping to find a "bargain". Since we are a long way from Home Depot, recycling can be a good way to go. For example, in the next week I will be making a hitch/tow bar for a new sled. The materials will be reclaimed steel, originally part of the "bleachers" in the school gym. I got these "supplies" when I was at the dump a couple of years ago, so you could say I was a "shopper" on that day.
One woman here has a collection of "stuff" she has salvaged. Many people get snow machine and four wheeler parts there. In the past I have reclaimed everything from used lumber to old moose heads (used for trapping bait; one was the key to obtaining a very nice black wolf pelt).
There is an art to dump shopping. You can't just go barging in like you would at a Wal-Mart. You've got to watch where you step (remember the honey buckets) and you must possess visual appraisal skills. That is, you must have a discerning eye to tell you what trash is "treasure" and what trash is truly trash. Without the visual appraisal skills a dump shopper is forced to rummage around in the dump like a stray dog or lazy bear; a somewhat hazardous activity that can also give you a bad reputation.
I'm reminded of my early days as a shopper when I was ignorant and unskilled. I needed some pipe (two inches in diameter) to fix my trailer. A visit to our local hardware store (that's the dump, in case you haven't figured it out yet) was in order. And I quickly found what I needed. There was a large plumbing apparatus that had been dicarded when they updated our water plant. Jutting out from the top was a length of pipe which would suit my needs. I returned with a hacksaw and got to work.
I found something to stand on so I could reach the pipe (it was 7-8 feet off the "ground", not really ground because we are talking about the dump here). I climbed up and started sawing. A few people passed by and gave me some quizzical looks, but no matter; I knew why I was precariously perched on rubbish with both arms over my head sawing away on the pipe. Eventually I was sucessful and returned home.
In hind sight I would definitely say that was not the work of a skilled dump shopper. Here's why:
-#1; Discretion, or in this case, the lack of. A veteran shopper operates with the skill of a Navy Seal, seeking to perform the required operation in secret. Balancing on a pile of garbage while sawing overhead is anything but discreet. Like I said earlier, bad for the reputation.
-#2; Poor location. The needed pipe was very hard to reach. A basic rule of dump shopping is watching where you step; climbing up on a garbage pile is out of the question for veteran shoppers.
-#3; Visual appraisal. This is where I really blew it. A savvy shopper would have accurrately assessed the situation and deemed this pipe unacceptable. As a rookie, I plunged right in, to my subsequent shame. The discarded plumbing apparatus of which my selected pipe was a part, had not been previously used for water supply. No...I can only wish it were so. The truth is, (and here I cringe just thinking about it) the pipe I salvaged was part of the sewage system. (And I thought the color was from rust; so gross!)
Welcome to Paradise
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