“On Sunday mornings, as the dawn burned into day, swarms of gulls descended on the uncollected trash, hovering and dropping in the cold clear light.”

The morning was sunny but has since begun to get cloudy. Gracie was on the deck earlier when I heard her critter alert bark. I went out and she was trying to get at something hiding behind the deck box. I looked and nothing was there. The mighty watch dog had missed the critter leaving from the other end.

Yesterday was a wonderfully quiet day. I went back and forth between watching baseball and the marathon then read all afternoon. I brushed my teeth and combed my hair, but I didn’t get dressed, and I didn’t make my bed. Today, however, my dance card has a few entries, mostly errands, but I’m also having lunch with a friend, Thai food, one of my favorites. I’m even going to change my bed. I feel like a whirlwind of activity.

When I was a kid, I never had set chores. My brother had to empty the basket into the barrel, and he always complained about being put upon. Sometimes, though, I had to empty the inside garbage outside. My mother had a plastic triangular garbage holder with holes in the bottom. Its shape fit perfectly in the corner of the sink. When it was full, one of us took it outside to the garbage pail. The pail was in the ground and you used a pedal to open the lid. I remember all the maggots crawling on the garbage, but I was too young to be horrified by maggots. I was mostly fascinated. The garbage man came once a week and would haul out the pail and empty it into the big barrel he carried. I thought that was the grossest of all jobs until I met the night soil man in Ghana who emptied the outhouse pails. Now that was and still is to me the grossest job of all.

Almost none of the workers who came to the house had names. They were always men and each was defined by his job. We had the garbage man, the trash man, the mailman, the milk man, the newspaper man, the junkman and the scissors-knife sharpener man who rode his bicycle on the street and rang a bell to announce his arrival. The only name we knew was Johnny, the ice cream man. We never thought it strange that we didn’t know the names of the men who came so often to our house.

Now I know the names of the people who come to my house. There are far fewer than when I was a kid. Bob is my mailman, Lori is my newspaper deliverer and Sebastian is my landscaper. The milk now comes from the store and my knives and scissors need sharpening. I am the trash and garbage man who goes once a week to the dump. I haven’t seen a maggot in years.

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10 Comments on ““On Sunday mornings, as the dawn burned into day, swarms of gulls descended on the uncollected trash, hovering and dropping in the cold clear light.””

  1. olof1 Says:

    We were talking about all those men that used to come to our homes back in the days. We also had the man selling pots and pans, he had a carriage he pulled all over town but I can’t remember anyone ever buing anything from him.

    I miss the musicians, the organ-grinders. They used to come once a month singing songs while playing that instrument. People used to put a few coins in paper twoels and toss them ouit their windows. I’ve only seen one organ-grinder since then and that was in Paris. A woman with the voice of a citar sand french chansons outside Sacre Coeur. I can’t say it was beautiful but I liked it anyway 🙂

    Warm and sunny again today and this will continue all week they say, I believe it when it happens 🙂

    Have a great day!

    • katry Says:

      When I was in the city visiting my grandparents, a small truck would stop. It had a carousel, a small one, and rides were a dime. I thought that was wonderful.

      We had no musicians. I wish we did. It would have been so neat.

      It was in the low 50’s today which felt warm after the recent cold spell at night.

      Have a great evening!

  2. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    I still have the outside garbage pail with the cast iron lid. I don’t use it anymore, of course. Very early one morning I kept hearing a loud clanging. When I looked out I saw a raccoon patiently stomping on the pedal with his two front paws and all his upper body weight. The lid would lift up about 3 inches and clang back down. He gave it up after it got too light outside to be safe for him. I’m pretty sure he figured out a better way. They’re clever.

    Today was doctor appointment. She took blood and gave me some horse vitamins to replace it, I guess.
    Rocky and I have taken a couple of walks so far. It was sunny this morning but now it’s very cloudy. Still warm, though.
    Nothing else is planned for today so I will read or internet browse.

    Enjoy the day.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      They are clever and their front paws are almost hands. I was sleeping once in the living room on the couch when I kept hearing a clanging sound. It was the flue and a raccoon trying to get it opened from inside the chimney. The raccoon had babies. When they all left, I had the chimney capped-no more raccoons.

      I didn’t do one of my errands-will do it tomorrow. I came home and read for a while. It was a nice day but is less so now.

      Enjoy the evening!

  3. flyboybob Says:

    I still take out the trash in our house. We have a compactor which pushes the trash down into a can during the week and on Friday morning I take out the plastic bag and put it int ne of two big plastic bins that are emptied by the garbage truck. The truck has a lift that takes the bin up in the air and dumps the contents into the truck. A gray bin for non recylicables and a blue me for recyclables.

    The grossest jobs here in the US are probably the guys who clean out the insides of various kinds of storage tanks. Sewer workers are probably next on the list. Most of the gross manual labor jobs are no longer being done by Americans but are being done by illegal immigrant workers. Today anyone who comes to your house to do work should carry identification and give you a business card. We no longer live in the 1950s. In Dallas during the summer months my mother would leave the back door unlocked so that the milk man could come in early in the morning and put the milk in our refrigerator so it wouldn’t spoil

    • katry Says:

      My town does not have garbage pick-up: no cape towns do. If you want pick-up, you have to pay. I have no choice but to haul the trash and recyclables to the trunk then to the dump.

      There are very illegal workers in Massachusetts and most businesses don’t hire them for fear of being culpable. The town does the job of clearing drains as we don’t have any sewers. In Boston, the city workers clear the sewers. They are not illegals who work for the city government.

      The only workers who come to the door are guys like landscapers and tree men. They do give me a card and I file it away just in case.

      When my parents sold their house on the cape in 1970, my mother couldn’t even find a front door key.

      • flyboybob Says:

        In 1980 I lived in a small town in West Texas called Big Spring. It was out in the oil patch and I flew for an oil company. I rented a garage apartment which was owned by the company’s travel person. The apartment was on the outskirts of town and she never gave me or my roommate a key and we never locked the door. Big Spring Texas is the county seat and had a population of around 30,000. The only redeeming value was a small barbecue joint that reeked from mesquite wood smoke and a great Mexican food joint.They rolled up the sidewalks at sunset and in my opinion it would be the place god would start if the world needed an enema 🙂

      • katry Says:

        I haven’t ever lived in other than a small town. Even in the Peace Corps my town, Bolga, was small. None of them were dubious.

      • flyboybob Says:

        Except your small towns were near a large town called Boston. The nearest similar place to Big Spring is Dallas, 285 miles away. Bolga probably has more class than all of West Texas.

      • katry Says:

        I am an hour and a half on a good day from Boston. I used to go a lot but now go far less. The city really doesn’t influence us too much down here.

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