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MARTHA SEZ:Turkey vultures and a dab of WD-40

June 11, 2012
MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

Although it hardly seems possible, this weekend begins the official June garage sale season.

Nature leads us such a merry chase here in the North Country, what with all of its extreme, unusual weather conditions (Adirondack weather is always extreme and unusual), that we tend to overlook some of life's fine points, like, for example, the passage of time.

We are forever sweeping sand and mud off the kitchen floor, keeping an eye on the brooks - are they up or down? - trying to figure out how many layers to wear and remembering to turn the car lights on when we use the windshield wipers, and then turn the car lights off again when we get out of the car. And so on. All of a sudden the sun comes out and we look up and see that the apple blossoms are gone and the trees have all leafed out, and it's June.

The garage sales, like the lilacs, were early this year, due to an unprecedented early heat wave. Most of the lilacs, forced into bloom, were hit by a sudden cold snap and killed, but the garage sales continue to do fine.

The sales seem to appear magically overnight, like mushrooms after a rain, but this is an illusion. Really they are the product of a long and arduous process that begins with spring cleaning.

As you know, hibernation is an important fact of life in cold climates. Even though we had a snowless winter the like of which no one has ever seen, the darkness and chill cast a pall. As soon as winter's pall is lifted, humans become energized and social.

You see this among children. I was on the school playground with a group of young elementary students last week - there was no keeping them indoors - when someone spotted a couple of big birds circling overhead, above a grove of trees.

"Are those eagles?" asked a kindergarten girl.

"No," I said, "I think those are vultures."

"Turkey vultures," clarified a fourth-grade boy.

Immediately, the children threw themselves down on the soft spring grass, limbs sprawled out, eyes closed. It took me a moment to realize that they were all simultaneously playing dead for the benefit of the buzzards.

Grown-ups, whether they reside in the city or the country, are too busy to play mind games with vultures. They are startled by the sight of dust and spider webs illuminated by the strange phenomenon of sunlight pouring in through their windows. This triggers a surge of energy, and spring cleaning begins.

Like small animals clearing their burrows of accumulated debris, they start culling out objects of all kinds. Items they have lived with and tolerated throughout the winter are now seen with a fresh eye. Appliances that must be tinkered with every time they are used in order to work effectively, unfortunate Christmas gifts, outgrown clothing, even possessions once longed for, purchased on credit and prized as integral to a coveted lifestyle, are now deemed to be so much dross. It all has to go!

The popular institution known as Bulky Days at the Keene Transfer Station is a testament to the overwhelming and universal urge to get rid of excess baggage. Even as they lug their unwanted furniture to the trailer bins, they appraise the cast-offs of their neighbors with a consumer's eye. Move it out, move it in.

At a successful garage sale, trash is transformed into treasure. Items bought at one garage sale may later be sold at another.

This is why people are so seldom able to really clear out large areas of living space in their homes. The urge to divest is balanced with the urge to acquire. Objects merely move around from place to place and owner to owner.

Last August a friend gave me a unique linen blouse printed with colorful little Chinese people. The first - and only - time I wore it I was informed by two different women that each had once owned the blouse and had given it to this or that charity rummage sale. I threw it back into circulation.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by secondhand goods. They were too intimately a part of other people's lives. They have vibes, if you know what I mean.

By the way, does anybody need an antique card table? A dab of WD-40, and it will be as good as new. You could always throw a table cloth over it.

Have a good week!

Although it hardly seems possible, this weekend begins the official June garage sale season.

Nature leads us such a merry chase here in the North Country, what with all of its extreme, unusual weather conditions (Adirondack weather is always extreme and unusual), that we tend to overlook some of life's fine points, like, for example, the passage of time.

We are forever sweeping sand and mud off the kitchen floor, keeping an eye on the brooks - are they up or down? - trying to figure out how many layers to wear and remembering to turn the car lights on when we use the windshield wipers, and then turn the car lights off again when we get out of the car. And so on. All of a sudden the sun comes out and we look up and see that the apple blossoms are gone and the trees have all leafed out, and it's June.

The garage sales, like the lilacs, were early this year, due to an unprecedented early heat wave. Most of the lilacs, forced into bloom, were hit by a sudden cold snap and killed, but the garage sales continue to do fine.

The sales seem to appear magically overnight, like mushrooms after a rain, but this is an illusion. Really they are the product of a long and arduous process that begins with spring cleaning.

As you know, hibernation is an important fact of life in cold climates. Even though we had a snowless winter the like of which no one has ever seen, the darkness and chill cast a pall. As soon as winter's pall is lifted, humans become energized and social.

You see this among children. I was on the school playground with a group of young elementary students last week - there was no keeping them indoors - when someone spotted a couple of big birds circling overhead, above a grove of trees.

"Are those eagles?" asked a kindergarten girl.

"No," I said, "I think those are vultures."

"Turkey vultures," clarified a fourth-grade boy.

Immediately, the children threw themselves down on the soft spring grass, limbs sprawled out, eyes closed. It took me a moment to realize that they were all simultaneously playing dead for the benefit of the buzzards.

Grown-ups, whether they reside in the city or the country, are too busy to play mind games with vultures. They are startled by the sight of dust and spider webs illuminated by the strange phenomenon of sunlight pouring in through their windows. This triggers a surge of energy, and spring cleaning begins.

Like small animals clearing their burrows of accumulated debris, they start culling out objects of all kinds. Items they have lived with and tolerated throughout the winter are now seen with a fresh eye. Appliances that must be tinkered with every time they are used in order to work effectively, unfortunate Christmas gifts, outgrown clothing, even possessions once longed for, purchased on credit and prized as integral to a coveted lifestyle, are now deemed to be so much dross. It all has to go!

The popular institution known as Bulky Days at the Keene Transfer Station is a testament to the overwhelming and universal urge to get rid of excess baggage. Even as they lug their unwanted furniture to the trailer bins, they appraise the cast-offs of their neighbors with a consumer's eye. Move it out, move it in.

At a successful garage sale, trash is transformed into treasure. Items bought at one garage sale may later be sold at another.

This is why people are so seldom able to really clear out large areas of living space in their homes. The urge to divest is balanced with the urge to acquire. Objects merely move around from place to place and owner to owner.

Last August a friend gave me a unique linen blouse printed with colorful little Chinese people. The first - and only - time I wore it I was informed by two different women that each had once owned the blouse and had given it to this or that charity rummage sale. I threw it back into circulation.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by secondhand goods. They were too intimately a part of other people's lives. They have vibes, if you know what I mean.

By the way, does anybody need an antique card table? A dab of WD-40, and it will be as good as new. You could always throw a table cloth over it.

Have a good week!

 
 

 

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