Yesterday was the solstice, the longest day of the year and the first day of summer, which means that although the days will be getting shorter, the hot and muggy season is just beginning. This year the solstice also happened to be bulk trash day for our town, and Jim spent much of his Saturday cleaning out our garage and assembling an embarrassingly large and cumbersome pile of random items we have been storing for, literally, years before this weekend, when we finally declared it junk.

Bulk trash day is an odd event, one I had never heard of prior to coming to the suburbs, when you can put anything you don’t want on the curb and (eventually) a big truck will come and take it away. Pretty nifty, I think.

However, picture this: everyone has a pile of junk on their front yard. Everyone. House after house. Really random stuff. Foosball tables with three legs. Cat trees covered in shredded wall-to-wall carpeting. Broken power tools. Rusty bicycles. Ruthlessly twisted venetian blinds. Oh, and baby gear. Lots and lots of outgrown baby gear, most of which has been mildewing in the back of a garage for, say, half a decade. (Their kids are in middle school now.)

Eventually, a truck will come around and pick the stuff up. Not right away, mind you, and what happens before (say, Thursday) is very interesting. The piles shift. You know what they say about one person’s trash. Well, apparently the town does, too. For days, the piles get picked over by everyone from scrap metal guys in beat up pick-up trucks, to seemingly rational and well-to-do neighbors looking for a freebie.

The pile in front of our house seemed to grow, initially, causing Jim and I to stare out our windows in disbelief. (They’re LEAVING stuff!?!?) Yes, by mid-morning of the first day, we had acquired a desk chair and folding table, which we chose to presume were the result of someone leaving one item to make room for another of ours. We hoped anyway. Whatever the case, from there on our pile began to dwindle as the kids’ old outdoor playhouse disappeared, as did the mildewy strollers and the rusty bikes. The interloping desk chair and folding table vanished. Our old storm door screens disappeared. Even my (late grandfather’s) old laser printer is gone. (Farewell, dear printer! May you someday find a cartridge that fits you again!)

Yesterday on my way home I saw a Mercedes pulled over next to one of my neighbor’s piles of rejects. An older man in neat khaki pants and a golf shirt was bent over the curb, digging intently in a box. Curious to know what was so enticing, I slowed down. That’s when I saw that he was sifting through two big boxes of records. Yeah. Vinyl. I seriously considered pulling over to get a look for myself, and with foregoing the roadside sifting in favor of tossing both boxes in the back of the car, but, fortunately, common sense prevailed. Jim would have been much too happy with my find, we don’t actually own a turntable anymore, and we would have ended up storing them in our recently cleaned out garage until a bulk trash day several years from now when we finally got fed up with trying to figure out what to do with them, so I let them go.

I think I regret it already.

In other news, Gargoyle #56 is available for purchase on the Paycock Press website and through Amazon. Go buy one! Right now! Read my story, “Things to Do When It Rains,” and tell me what you think. Read everyone else’s stories and poems and ooh and aah. It’s great summer reading, this much I can promise.

Also, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Runners is available for preorder at Amazon and includes the story of my first triathlon. Give that one a go, too. Or just go running! Yes, you can. No, it’s not that hot outside (hydrate). It’s not that hard. It’s just one foot in front of the other, over and over again.