ESSAY: Anchor Chain Hung from a Sky Hook

Some chains are left on the ground to rust. Their value does not warrant a special place. My anchor chain enjoys much higher status hanging from a log, undercover, out of the weather. Thursday I was putting away gleanings from my trip to the dump when I bumped into it and heard the inexorable rattle of it rolling from its resting place. I had enough time to tense for a quick jump out of the way, but the silence that lasted less than a second before the hook slapped my kidney, was not the time needed. Winded, I moaned around, looked and saw the apparition of that chain cracking my grandsons, who help me in that very spot, and thanked the providence that saved them and me from a far deeper hurt.

The dump for me is a lot like church. The pews are rough and there is a strong desire to be somewhere else, but while there the opportunity for reflection about our society and its garbage is priceless. I spent much of my time while unloading reflecting on a recent letter in our local paper written by a former planning commission member. So devoid of fact and so filled with invective it could have come from the top level of the Trump for President campaign. Playing into that was a recent venture to the planning commission to hear proposed changes to our new land use code. My work requires me to frequent the dump and deal with codes. I am not very tolerant of the ones that say “don’t take only leave,” at the land fill when the result is waste. I am equally un-fond of admonishments to allow for visual landscapes and preserve “our” viewscapes. They are unenforceable, subject to a broad range of interpretation, and a waste of time. Dumps aint pretty and neither are developments for the “blatantly wasteful.”

Tired but fulfilled with accomplishment because I had unloaded my contribution and excepted some brand new material from a contractor who doesn’t know value and was happily throwing it away, I proceeded to “the hardware store”. That is what my fellow scavengers call the area of the dump where scrap steel is left off. As only my good fortune would have it the attendant who is tasked with chasing me off was called to the new cell and I had free range to grab several gardening tools, some brand new fencing, and the greatest treasure of the day. A Red Schwinn bike. The gold badge on the front says QUALITY, Made in the USA and not new enough for the nouveau riche former owner to pump the tires, have repaired, or gift to someone less fortunate.

When I left the dump I apologized to my friend who attends there for the remarks of the former customer of mine who wrote the thoughtless letter dissing her and the commissioners who work hard to balance the needs of our community with the reality of those who leave valuables at the landfill. I went home, got smacked by a chain, and realized by the next day with the help of a beer and good friends that “that day” was truly the best day of my life.

Kirby Perschbacher

Kirby Perschbacher is a timberman, from a long line of timbermen.