Before I was born my father had a run-in with the dustmen, whose cart smashed into the front wall of our garden one morning, as it made its way up the narrow, rutted track to our house. After this accident, I'm told, my father ditched the council service and started his own: a rubbish pit he dug at the bottom of the orchard. In those days, with less packaging, frugal ways, a compost heap, and lots of home-grown food, I suppose our dustbins filled slowly, but in retrospect, it seems like a nutty venture to go off-grid. As a child I thought it was perfectly normal.
I remember the rubbish pit, not that far from the vegetable garden. I remember my father there, active with a spade. There was a lot of digging going on down there, what with the pit and the carrots and potatoes and onions. It's somewhere in my mind that there could have been a second or a third pit dug as the rubbish accumulated.
I hadn't thought about the rubbish pit in years. What an all-too obvious metaphor. If I still lived there I could undertake a little home-style excavation, see what still remained under the dirt, but the house, a continent away, was sold half a century ago. I was born in that house, and deep in my heart, I'm as close to it as ever.
Here in Greenpoint, three carting companies observe the Sabbath.
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