Appalachian Thursday – Burning the Trash

IMG_0094I suppose it’s odd to feel sentimental about trash.

Even so, I caught a whiff of burning paper the other day and was transported back to childhood days and the chore of burning the household trash.

There wasn’t a trash pick-up service for a farm way out in the country. And if there had been, we probably wouldn’t have paid for it. So what did we do with our trash? Well, for starters, we didn’t make that much of it. When you harvest a fair amount of your food, there’s a whole lot less packaging to mess with.

If it was glass, we washed it and reused it. If it was paper or cardboard it went in a paper grocery sack in the kitchen trash can. If it was foodstuffs, it went in a big bowl and either the dog ate it or it went in the garden for compost. Anything else went in the metal garbage can that was emptied just a few times a year. I won’t tell you where (NOT environmentally friendly).

Back to that bag in the kitchen . . . that was the burn bag. Typically, my older brother got to be in charge of burning the trash. There was a cinder block trash burner beside the garden–tall in the back, mid-height on the sides, low in the front. I’m pretty sure the ashes were scattered over the garden periodically.

We loved burning the trash. We’d find bits of paper, dry grasses, or sticks to make it last longer. We’d poke and prod to make sure every bit was consumed. There was something magical about watching flames eat a page of newsprint with a whoosh. Or watching the slow lick of flames up the side of a cereal box.

I kind of wish we burned our trash even now. I realize burning isn’t automatically better than burying trash in a landfill. But I do maintain it’s pleasanter. And much nicer for toasting a marshmallow.

Plus, it reminds me of being a kid.

Published by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Author, wife, child of God.

10 thoughts on “Appalachian Thursday – Burning the Trash

  1. We used to have a burn barrel. There is an art to crumpling paper so it will ignite. Flat sheet dumping causes smoldering and smelly burn. After cleaning out my office I have 7 sacks of paper ready for burning. Sigh–they’ll no doubt end up being shredded. Not much fun in that, is there?

  2. Oh, my goodness, yes, Sarah. You took me instantly to my childhood, to my grandmother’s house. They burned their trash. And I loved the smell of the fire outside. I loved seeing my grandmother standing over it. I see her now. Burning trash and the clothesline … those things nearly do me in. I miss my grandparents so much. ❤ Thank you for that trip down memory lane. I needed that.

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