Posted by: LovelyAnomaly | August 21, 2008

Gold Digging in the Country

Every couple weeks in the summers as a child, my mom and I had a routine.  On any given Friday, Mom and I would head outside after dinner to slather on sunscreen, stick 5 or 6 plastic bags in our pockets, and grab a pair of gloves.  We would set out on our bikes and coast down the only hill in central Illinois (which our house conveniently sat upon) and then take a left into the country.  

Between the road and the cornfields, Mom and I knew that there was gold in those ditches.  Aluminum gold.  Speckled throughout the grass and weeds was a myriad of little, shiny soda and beer cans.  I parked my bike and hopped into the ditches to collect each and every can–careful not to get the sticky soda or stinky beer onto myself.  I crinkled the cans on the gravel roads and tucked them into the plastic bag.  

There were risks, of course.  Bees loomed on every wildflower, mosquitos lurched in the murky puddles, and the neighbor’s dog was always eying me and waiting until I came closer to attack me (with puppy kisses, that is).  It was hot and sticky, and there were always patches of skin that missed out on the sunscreen which would become painfully apparent later.  It was tough–but we did it anyway.

As I filled my bags with aluminum cans, Mom filled her share with beer bottles, cardboard, and newspaper.  We were green long before it was cool to be green.  We would share stories and laugh.  We’d complain about the heat, joke about the headlines that we saw in the old newspapers, and ultimately bond as mother and daughter.  It was probably the most unique way to bond, but looking back on it, it was pretty rewarding.  I had taken those Friday evenings for granted until I read about a city man searching for junk metal.  The memories of my aluminum scavenger hunts with Mom came flooding back.

As the sun began to set, we would start the trek back home, lugging the plastic bags on the handlebars.  The next morning, Mom and I would toss the aluminum-filled bags into the trunk of the car and exchange them for money at the pick-up location.  We’d take the money and use it for ice cream or a movie together.  And I’d save whatever leftover money there was in my bank account.  We had exercised, helped the environment, and bonded all at the same time.  And I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything in the world.

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