How could I be hopelessly out of style at the dump? Why was I even at the dump?
I blame it on Pamida, a department store in the old Lucky’s shopping plaza where over three decades ago I bought three sapling birch trees on sale for $6 each. I was 29 years old, pregnant, with a new house. I needed trees.
“Don’t plant birch trees,” every old timer told me. “They’ll die.”
I had faith in Pamida.
I purchased the young birches, planted them, watered them faithfully and they grew and grew, enjoying the morning sun until this year when they died. I loved the birch trees that had grown taller than my house, and that now had to be cut down and taken to the dump.
Removing three tall birch trees wasn’t an easy job. The tree trunk segments and limbs were loaded onto my old trusty trailer attached to my pickup readied for the Teton County Transfer Station, an exceptionally tidy dump though not one of my top destinations.
At the dump I observed the 9 3/4 mph speed limit sign and headed to the yard waste area. I backed up the trailer, put on my leather, squirrel-chewed work gloves and hopped out of the pickup.
I began removing the heavy-duty ratchet straps holding down the tarp securing the birch tree debris. I was work-focused on this hot and cloudless morning until Ms. Fancy Trailer pulled up beside me. At first I didn’t pay any attention to her as I folded up my mud-encrusted frayed tarp.
Then I caught sight of the exceptionally well-groomed woman in her later years, well-preserved, gracefully exiting her gleaming SUV wearing Everlane Cheeky jeans and Blundstone boots. New to our neck of the woods I suspected, eager to embrace the Wyoming lifestyle. I got a whiff of her perfume blended with high notes emanating downwind from the festering trash being readied for transfer to Bonneville County, Idaho.
My fellow dumper athletically strode to the back of her double-axle, low- profile homeowner dump trailer. She brushed off her pants, climbed back into her SUV, pressed a button and watched in her rearview mirror as the trailer automatically tilted up enabling her tidily pruned willow branches to simply slide out of the cargo hold.
I tell you, I was mesmerized. I just stood there with my arms full of unruly birch branches as this Loro Piana tan baseball cap-wearing queen of the dump automatically reversed her trailer into the upright position, then automatically opened the hatch of her SUV effortlessly. She removed a large plastic case that contained a brand new, smudge-free rechargeable leaf blower. Before turning the blower on she placed soft-leather, outside-seamed work gloves onto her manicured hands and Pro Ears Gold Series green-colored hearing protection muffs over her diamond-studded ears.
I continued to drag, throw and heave branches onto the dump pile. She pretended not to notice me noticing her but I know she knew; she was perfectly pleased with herself as she blew the tiny crumbs of debris off her 15-inch radial tire, silver-wheeled trailer with LED lights and integrated tarp mount. I think it was the mesh tarp that really got to me, although I remained coolly composed, sweaty as I was.
Task complete, the woman wiped off her blower and accompanying case with an all-purpose towelette, then placed her gloves in a small drawstring bag reserved for that purpose.
By that time I’d begun sweeping out my trailer with an old sap-speckled broom with a split handle. The sap got on my fingers, then on my work shirt, the one with the elk bloodstains on the cuffs.
The lovely woman dabbed her cheeks with a facial wipe while looking in her sun visor mirror. I’d just tucked a shopping list for grilled Halloumi and cherry salad with cold spinach, barley and champagne vinegar into the little side pocket of my visor, before leaving home, taking no note of a mirror.
I should have looked in a mirror. I should have stepped it up.
Eventually the remarkable Lady of our Gracious Dump and I made eye contact.
“You have the most remarkable automatic trailer I have ever seen in my life,” I told her. “Growing up we had a PTO dump trailer. I’d sit in the cab of the tractor, activate the PTO, then push a lever for the hydraulic remote to make the trailer go up and down. Sometimes I heard horrible grinding noises when trying to engage the power take off.”
“Mine’s electric,” she boasted.
“Ah, but my trailer’s got patina,” I answered.