Trash that Mocks

This is one of those days when I have more ideas than I can possibly fit into one coherent post. Do I write about the red-tailed hawk that I knew was there before I saw or heard it because of the quantity and variety of birds that were in a tizzy as I made my way down to the wetlands? Or the man with the Save the Chesapeake license plates who threw a cigarette butt out his window as he drove down Monocacy Boulevard? Or maybe ponder the seasonal nature of trash?

Well, there, I’ve written about all of those things without really writing anything at all. So let’s move on. To pumpkins.


About a week ago, I came across this discarded pumpkin at the edge of the woods. Its paint made clear that it was a Halloween leftover, but I assumed that it was a whole pumpkin until I came upon it a few days later, when it looked like this:


Someone (or something) had flipped it over to reveal its Jack-o-lantern face, more frightening in its decay, I’m sure, than in its candlelit prime. But, in me, it inspired more questions than fear. Namely: what is it that makes something trash? Is it simply something discarded, or is there some judgement behind the word? If something is trash must it be something that has been devalued or deemed worthless? If we tell someone that their work is trash, typically we are not saying that it has been placed in the garbage but that it is “bad.” Is this a fair judgement on trash?

Can trash be “good”? Well, yes, for instance, some “trash” can be made into something else, like scrap metal into another machine or even a piece of art. But that requires taking the trash out of the trash, transforming it into not-trash, which implies that it was never really trash in the first place. Then, for instance, there is this pumpkin, which, besides its paint, is natural and compostable. It first can feed the wildlife that we can see, like squirrels and these ants:


Then it can feed the wildlife that we can’t see, like fungus, bacteria and microbes. It will ultimately break down and return to the earth. So, it is “good” correct?  Discarded but not devalued?

If it is “good” trash, do I leave it? Or does the paint render it less desirable? Or do I move it to a proper composting bin? What is the right thing to do when you run into a painted jack-o-lantern in the forest and no one sees you?

For me, apparently, it is to ask so many questions that I stop making sense.

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