Story telling from Australia
We spent the weekend clearing out the shed, faces covered by masks to cope with decades of Broken Hill dust that had smothered toolboxes, jam jars, old trunks and empty cardboard boxes. Power to the shed was cut when an electrician called to find out why the house kept shorting out and the problem was traced to a line leading to the shed, buried deep (although perhaps not deep enough) under my vegetable patch. He cracked open the shed door, declared the old board unsafe and shut off the power. So we worked in the gloom, snatching light from gaps in the corrugated iron, wearing gloves and heavy shoes, brushing away layers of choking dust to see what might be hidden underneath.
An alarming amount of rubbish in the shed was precisely that, rubbish. And most of it was mine. I had dragged it back from occasional forays to the tip when we had chooks and needed fencing, trellis, wire and posts, none of which I’d been able to throw away when we lost the chooks and dismantled the fencing. The tip had also supplied pots, trays, wooden drawers, side tables, wrought iron panels for plants to climb, a broken clothes airer I thought I could mend, dog toys, a barbecue and a large window (I must have had a plan for that once).
We piled it all into the trailer and drove to the tip, checking the rear view mirror to make sure the contents stayed contained. I watched a black spider climb out of a box and cling to the cardboard as we drove at a sedate pace, past the cemetery, along the Barrier Highway and up Depot Road, heading for a patch of wasteland where black crows circled overhead.
Until I came to live in Broken Hill I never gave much thought to what happened to the rubbish we toss into bins and leave to be emptied each week and carted away. Out at the dump, rubbish is simply tipped onto the dirt and left there. Sometimes the picture is particularly grim. Tabby, the local vet, rescued a live baby goat from the tip after some heartless soul stuffed it into a chaff bag and dumped it in the meat hole, where dead animals are thrown. Thankfully there are kind hearts like Tabby who live in Broken Hill.
The tip may not be pretty but it serves a useful purpose, with a second hand shop that raises money for Lifeline. I resisted the impulse to check for more pots and we drove home, past Jacaranda trees on Morgan Street with clouds of lilac blossom and bougainvillea on Zebina shouting colour to a clear blue sky.
Our back garden has never looked as green as it did that day, grape vines scrambling up the bedroom wall in a race to the top, snow peas, radish and lettuce ready to be picked and tomatoes from last year’s plants slowly ripening.
I staked the peas and tied back the tomatoes then I couldn’t help wondering if I should have kept some of that trellis. I might have to make a return journey to the tip.