Memories of trash and treasure: Part 2

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trash dump

Many treasured memories from my childhood farm include one favorite place to explore. There was a deep woods where we spent hours of our youth exploring, pretending to be everything from cowboys to wild animals.

There were enormous old trees, including one smooth, hollow tree which made a great hiding spot for our hide-and-seek fun. We hunted mushrooms, climbed trees, cut paths, battled biting flies, racked up countless mosquito bites and bouts of poison ivy, but that little bit of suffering was never enough to turn us away.

We headed for that woods every chance we got. But for my sister, the part of that woods which captivated her imagination was the area where tenants long before us chose to bring and unload their unwanted items. It was that old farm dump site that provided us with the boards we needed to build our own treehouse.

Our cousin Chris was visiting one summer and came up with the great idea that we ought to build a treehouse down by the farm pond. By that time, the old Hoosier cupboard brought to the woods from the house my parents moved to in their newlywed years must have deteriorated, or I’m certain my imaginative sister would have wanted that added to the first floor of the treehouse under construction.

We all pitched in and helped drag boards from the woods, walking the lane out to the road, crossing the road and heading down a hill to get to the squatty, wide-based tree which would become our hang-out. All it required was a hammer, nails, a saw and the collective imagination and determination of five girls.

The dump in the woods proved bountiful, providing us with enough boards to construct a two-story structure, complete with a ladder hammered into the limbs of the tree. We had a lookout on the top floor to keep an eye out for unwelcome intruders.

There was no reason we needed a treehouse, but that old dump site in the woods convinced us otherwise. “Look at all this stuff! Let’s do something with it!” our cousin Chris proclaimed.

A few years after my great-grandfather Charlie died, I remember a ruckus in the community when his former farm was about to become the first official landfill in the county. While others were up in arms, I remember my father saying, “It has to go somewhere.”

My dad predicted the day would come when regulations would exist over what people could legally dump, and the charges to get rid of junk would seem crazy, prompting more littering than ever.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.

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