It was a relief to leave the trash trucks behind today, as they turned off towards the landfill and I continued on the rural road that would take me home. There had been one in front of me and one behind me (following too closely, as is often the case) and many that passed me going the opposite direction on the road, having dumped their unpleasant cargo. It is only fifteen minutes that we have to spend on the road with these trucks for company, and do picture eighteen-wheelers and not your neighborhood trash truck-when we travel one part of our county….but those fifteen minutes are always filled with thoughts centering on how we have reached the point in our world where we truck our trash across whole states, at much expense and fuel, to deposit it on the countryside. Worse still, I think of the three people (thus far) who have lost their lives in accidents with these trash trucks.
My eyes have been opened to this since our lovely, green county received this landfill several years ago. And it was just a few years ago that we encountered our first “trash train” when we went to a charming little town to trainspot, as we sometimes do. We smelled it before it came near, and watched the dirty cars go by with none of the pleasure we usually receive from watching those huge boxcars go by.
I have read of the barges, filled with rubbish and waste, that travel the world, looking for a place to put it all out of our sight. All these heavy realities…what is one to do?
I believe we do what we can. To simply see the connections is so important, because if you see a connection between what you buy/use/discard and how these choices ripple out to the rest of the world, you begin to be more thoughtful. I have spent so much time over the years agonizing over the difficulties of these connections. We got our goats because I made all the connections about the problems with dairy production and all the milk cartons we disposed of…and a longing for the connection to earth and its creatures. We had a few years of fresh milk and good feelings about what we were doing, and then for many reasons we chose to give it up. And so we throw away our milk cartons now, and I ponder whether it is better to keep buying organic milk in cartons or buy the just-discovered bottled milk from a fairly local dairy that is not produced organically. I shall let you know what I decide!
All this to say that these connections…the relationships between our little domestic spheres and the large, lovely world out there are very much a part of me and my thoughts and my work. Tho’ the problems seem huge and overwhelming on a grand scale, my hope is that we can make a difference in the small scale of our homes and lives. So we can sign petitions and give money to help those who are trying to help on the big scale, and we can buy the orange juice that comes in a recyclable bottle on the small scale. And keep conversing about it all and helping each other muddle through.
I read this yesterday in Over the Gate by Miss Read:
“In May,a small flat cart pulled by an ancient donkey appears in Fairacre. On board are dozens of seedlings…Sometimes there is a box or two of rosy double daisies. These I can never resist…It always ends the same way, bearing my damp little newspaper parcels, and my much lighter purse, I return to the schoolhouse…..”
Damp newspaper parcels….I like to think of that.
*Part of the view I have from the desk in my studio, including the shelf with my few precious Miss Read books.*