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Saturday Mornings at the Cabot Recycle Center
Taking out the trash isn’t the sexiest chore
Rural areas can be a tricky place to find community. There are just not that many people around. If you’re more of an introvert, it makes things all the more difficult. When we bought our house the sellers advised us, rather than put a mail box in front of the house, get a post office box. They said, “That’s how you’ll get to know the village.” It’s a similar story with the trash and recycle center.
You’ll find the Cabot Recycle Center in Lower Cabot on Saw Mill Road just past the bridge over the Winooski River. On Saturday mornings from 8am to noon, it is the center of village activity. Cars and trucks turn in and out, one right after the other. It is the most egalitarian place around. Everyone needs it. Everyone uses it.
The Center itself is just a big, cold shed. Inside, on the concrete slab there are large boxes, bins and barrels to deposit one’s paper, glass and plastic. The entire process usually takes only about five or ten minutes. There’s nothing fancy about it. It’s the people that warm up and animate the place.
While I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a tailgate party, I have witnessed a tailgate or two come down, thermoses come out, and pods of conversation strike up. I always look forward to connecting with Chris — a farmer and excellent fiddle player who frequents the jam sessions at Harry’s Hardware. He is also the guy you pay when you chuck a week’s worth of trash up into the back of the dump truck.
If you’re not in a sociable mood you can always adopt the head-down and rush-through pose. That’s a valid approach for sure. Taking out the trash isn’t the sexiest chore. It would go to reason that the inclination would be to get in and out as quickly as possible. I usually try to be zen about the process - lift my head, give a smile, and say hello to people.
Part of the beauty of Saturday mornings is that you never know who you’re going to run into. The serendipity of paths crossing creates interesting opportunities for connection: random greetings exchanged, questions asked and answered, meeting someone who has just moved to town. How wonderful it is to share harmless gossip, especially if you’ve been homebound for days.
Of course there are numerable opportunities to socialize in familiar environs, but few are so random as the Saturday morning ritual of taking out the trash. I’ve grown to appreciate how this mundane exercise has the ability to bring people together in ways that we wouldn’t be able to devise by ourselves. Mostly, there’s value in people just seeing each other, and being reminded that we all cohabitate the same locale. We are each other’s people.