Between the Lines

Between the Lines By David Lias My wife, kids and I like to drink a lot of pop.

That fact became apparent three weekends ago, when the weather warmed up enough for us to consider doing some outdoor spring cleaning.

We attacked the yard, picking up dozens of branches that had been stripped from our trees by last winter's gusting winds.

We also puttered around in the garage, and there, taking up a huge amount of floor space, were all those cans � probably at least three or four months' worth.

We have a can crusher mounted inside the garage. We had good intentions this winter to not let our supply of used aluminum get out of hand.

It seemed that every winter weekend, when we had an opportunity to clear up our mess, it was just too darn cold. Or there were activities to go to. Or we were traveling out of town.

There was always an excuse.

All the excuses in the world couldn't change what was facing us in our garage recently, however. Clearly, our can supply had grown out of control.

We had a big mess on our hands. So the two of us went about cleaning it up.

This time, the weather was cooperating. And we set aside a block of time to make sure we'd get the job done.

It seemed like a daunting task at first. We were surrounded by dozens of small plastic garbage bags, each filled with old pop cans.

But before we knew it, we had them all crushed, and ready to be taken to the recycling center.

The experience was both satisfying, and a bit eye-opening. Where there once was a mess is added space to park our cars.

The process of creating that space, however, made us all realize that the four of us are voracious consumers.

In our journey of life, I'm afraid, we leave a wide, trash-filled wake.

That notion rang true again as we prepared for last Saturday's Operation Pride clean-up project in Vermillion.

Our home lies on the very southern border of the area designated for the clean-up. We decided to make the most of the opportunity. The entire Lias clan, and Cindy's dad and Andrea Willroth, who were both over at the house visiting, pitched in.

Our curb was soon lined with furniture we had purchased in a well-worn state when we were first married, and was worn out beyond repair.

Just as our garage had become overrun with aluminum, our basement was being successfully invaded by cardboard. It seems that Cindy and I haven't thrown away a single cardboard box since we moved here about five years ago.

I think moving does that to a person. You're so focused on packing your stuff in a box, putting the box in a truck, driving it to your new home, taking it out of the truck and then unpacking it, that you can't throw the box away.

Even when you know you aren't moving ever again, that box is still good.

We hauled lots of perfectly good boxes from our basement to the curb, never to be seen again after last Saturday.

Then we started in on other things that have been cluttering up our lives including a dead television set, building scraps left behind by our home's prior residents, old torn window screens abandoned in a pile when they were replaced with more modern storm windows, pieces of aluminum siding, a box containing a metal frame and stakes for a tent, except that the tent was missing (we saved the stakes figuring they will come in handy in our garden), and the lining of an old chimney we tore down a couple years ago.

Again, when the evening's work was finished, there was that feeling of satisfaction, of knowing that you've just helped do the right thing. Deep down, however, is an unsettling feeling, this wonder of how wasteful I've become.

Spring is here. It is a season of renewal and new life. Activities like Operation Pride have helped breathe some new life in the Vermillion community.

Hopefully, I can be consistent with my clean-up activities, and not produce so much trash to begin with.

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