Saturday, October 24, 2009

Going GREEN has been HIP all along

The View From My Front Porch
October 2009
Beth Voltmer, New Virginia, Iowa

My husband and I recently purchased a property for a rental and a part of the terms were that we’d take care of clearing out the personal property that the seller’s (two brother’s selling their father’s place) did not want. Since ‘digging for treasures’ is my thing, I thought to myself, I’m up for this. What I discovered was, recycling, reusing, repurposing…it’s been hip and here all along.

When the Tri-corner had an announcement regarding a fall garage sale in town, I decided I should probably participate…it was time to get things sorted and cleaned out. I would just combine the project with items from home and from the little place we purchased.

Having already sorted, thrown away and cleared items from the home on the property, it was time to tackle the garage. I had an absolute ball! Truly, one man’s junk is another’s treasure. What the sellers left behind, ended up being an adventure for me. The two sons told us that their dad loved to go to auctions and if a box of something wouldn’t get a bid, the auctioneer would just sell it to their father for .50 cents.

I started at ‘one’ workbench. I say ‘one’ because there were several. I unearthed can after can of nails, screws, bolts, tacks…you name it, I found it…I just didn’t always know what it was, that I had found. Empty cans, jars, and box after empty box, just waiting and ready for whatever the homeowner needed it for. I thought to myself…he must have spent hours upon hours out in the garage just tinkering. Tinkering…I’ve decided, is a good thing and something I need to do more of.

Tinkering…I like the word and all it entails: mindless sorting, effortless organizing, fixing, dabbling, repairing and best of all…puttering. Puttering…another good word. As I went about puttering around, I pictured the homeowner in his bib overalls or worn denim jacket (they, too, were in the corner of the garage), just picking up and putting down. Fixin’, patching, repairing and replacing. Just tinkering…puttering, with only your thoughts to get in the way.

Coming from an auction, unloading his pickup truck of treasures, must have given him the same pleasure as this was giving me. Wondering what something had been used for, what an item was and ‘why’ someone would even have it, let alone keep it. Maybe thinking of a way to ‘repurpose’ an item or two. A treasure here and a treasure there…but mostly, just stuff…or maybe even ‘junk’. BUT…one man’s junk…”

My son was helping one afternoon, readying the garage and the items in it that I would be selling. He said to me, “Mom, you do realize, this is just junk, don’t you?” I whipped around and said to him,” this is what I do, this is what I like…” he then said to me, “well, I’m the one going to have to go through it all and clean it out when you’re gone.” A little while later, as we were clearing out a corner, I turned to see him checking out some kind of metal thingy. He turned it right, he turned it left…I saw the look in his eye. When he realized that I had seen him put it with the items he was storing in the garage, all he could do was grin, he’d been caught! Again, I say…another man’s junk…” I clearly would have thrown that metal thingy away!

As the garage sale unfolded and I was visiting with shoppers, a young man came by. He and I were talking about all the stuff I’d found. He reminisced about his grandpa having the same kind of stuff…jars and can after can of nails and screws. He mentioned his grandma had saved every plastic butter dish she’d ever purchased. He found them in the basement one time, while searching for something else. He said, it’s not that it’s messy or anything, they are nicely stored and she knew where they were. He just didn’t know why a person would keep them.

This got me to thinking…AGAIN. There is something to be learned from this. This generation LIVED green. They didn’t throw things away, as it would be useful another time for another purpose. Or NOT. They were raised during a much different time. A time of “waste not, want not”. And so it was, and so here we are…becoming mindful of reusing, repurposing, restyling, re…re…re! Re-learning to live in a greener way…being green is hip…and it turns out, it always has been. So, my dear son, I’ve told you all along I’m pretty hip, and this just proves it!

And this folks, is the view from my front porch.
Beth Voltmer lives on a farm in rural New Virginia