Rendered Fat Content


Eugene Berman, Italienne Symphony II (1940)
"The cats receive an hour's free entertainment …"

I received perhaps the greatest gift ever when my email inboxes disappeared from my iPhone on Christmas Eve. Long a point of continuing frustration, their sudden absence felt freeing. I know, I'm supposed to grieve the loss of 3500 messages I had never been able to keep up with, but I could never keep up with them, and though I retain a sense that something important must have been hidden in there somewhere, besides an irregular seli-annual purge of the contents, I never found in there anything like A Publisher's Clearinghouse announcement that I'd become an instant millionaire. Mostly, detritus resulting from some fleeting past association that had produced sometimes daily updates from which I'd never figured out how to unsubscribe and trivial updates from the homeowner's association announcing that some member or another had received approval to install new windows, I only felt oppressed by their presence. My occasional review of the inboxes, never a regular part of my regimen, left me more skilled at deleting without reading them, hundreds each day, it seemed, hardly a skill much prized in anyone's marketplace. I found some retained on my laptop, but felt free that my iPhone would no longer present this overwhelming doodlebug hole of a challenge. Praise be, indeed!

Little of the garbage I generate so easily and permanently disappears.
Following the annual package opening ritual, the tree features boxes stuffed with packaging, each requiring special handling, some destined to become a permanent part of our landscape. Wadded up newspaper needs unwadding before recycling, and separated from bubblewrap plastic, which won't recycle. Boxes must be cut down flat or risk encouraging the wrath of our recycling 'team.' The garage overfloweth with a fresh pile of impending discards and all's not quite right with the world. Apple products, God bless them, come in very cleverly-designed packaging all of which conveniently fits into my bi-weekly paper recycling box. Other products un-usefully fill up our extra small garbage can, which, to acquire, I had to engage the garbage company in a month-long dialogue to convince them to exchange the HUGE one for a more demure model, for I'd come to realize that the larger the receptacle, the more incentive I had to just forget about the volume of trash I was weekly Disposaling.

None of that stuff goes away. From here, it's carted off to near the top of a nearby watershed, adjacent to the now decommissioned Rocky Flats nuclear warhead assembly plant, where it's supposed to rest in peace forever, amen. I suspect that within a generation we'll be mining that pile for then valuable material like aluminum foil. For now, we insist that it's gone. Every damned thing within every shop and store is headed there or to recycling or to the wastewater treatment plant. Everything. I shudder when imagining all we'll leave behind here after our passing. We will be blithely HeadingHomeward, but leave a very long tail behind. Here, at least, we still enjoy comprehensive recycling. There, where we're heading, they haven't yet figured out how to recycle glass, which seems awfully primitive.

How to dispose of a stocked-out goose carcass? The skeleton's reduced to just so many disconnected bones. I save the wishbone because that's just something I've always done. Our kitchen window sill's piled high with them: chicken, duck, and goose. I think of it as a collection, preserved for later wish-making, though nobody could possibly hope to receive a wish coming true from breaking a goose or duck model. They're unbreakable. Here, I sort out the expended vegetables and leave the carcass on the deck for the magpie squadron to dispose of. They're bone collectors, so even when every last shred of ligament's gnawed off, they carry the bare bones back to their nests—which must be horrifying places—as treasures. The cats receive an hour's free entertainment and the birds, carrion-pickers by nature, receive some sustenance and some knick-knacks. Perfect Disposaling!

I bring up this topic because we'll be leaving here considerably less than Scot-free. Our culpability seems an inescapable element of living anywhere. Some here behave even more responsibly than us, much closer to zero footprint existences, but we're plenty scrupulous, though never quite scrupulous enough. Some of our neighbors, perhaps most of them, never seem to give the first thought to the waste trail they generate as they pass through, at least judging from the over-flowing contents of their over-large garbage cans. I just can't, and never could, countenance tossing without at least attempting to wash and recycle first. It's become an integral part of my existence, probably to assuage my guilt. Some might see the contents each package contains. I see the packaging, largely waste which could have been more thoughtfully designed for reuse or recycling. At the produce stand, we always ask for a box, which we will subsequently fill with paper trash and set out for recycling. Disposaling's no inconvenience but a sobering responsibility. Even so, we seem certain to leave some mess behind with which those following will ultimately perform some future additional Disposaling. Nothing just disappears, not even us. We're all always heading somewhere. HeadingHomeward, I suspect.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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