On my first Mac, every time I deleted a document in the trash can, Oscar the Grouch would pop up and sing "I love it because it's trash." I loved this little feature until I didn't. But it's true. Sometimes trash is just garbage, but sometimes it has significance. There's a bunch of junk—big stuff—in the Dog Park. Some of it is sort of historical, as remnants of the grounds' time as a state hospital. Some of it, though, is just crap. (There are "No Dumping" signs for a reason, and they are not referring to the dogs.) A couple of weeks ago, I thought I'd document some of the junk lying around Dog Park. Here is what I found.
There are several of these tires filled with cement in the Park. There's actually one right near the south parking lot with a pole stuck in it. (Someone set a bag of poop on that one months ago. Perversely, I have not picked it up. It's like a science experiment for me now. I wish I had one of those time-lapse cameras to show the rest of the world gliding by while a flaccid green poo bag lingers unchanged throughout eternity.) What were they used for originally, these tire sculptures? It's a mystery.
This twisted metal structure is currently nestled amid poison ivy under the trees along the path that intersects both loops. I suppose it could have been the undercarriage of a picnic table or a bike rack. Now it looks like something the City of Austin would pay real money for to display along Lamar at 5th Street or in front of the main library. How did it get all twisted up? Something really big must have squashed it.
This tire rim is a recent addition. I first saw it perched upright on its rims on the side of a hill, about 200 yards from where it lies now. With the light hitting it just so, I couldn't tell what it was. The dogs couldn't either; Muzzy kept barking at it. It reminded me of the Wallace Stevens poem "The Anecdote of the Jar."
The Anecdote of the Jar
I placed a jar in Tennessee,
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.
The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.
The jar was round upon the ground
And tall and of a port in air.
It took dominion everywhere.
The jar was gray and bare.
It did not give of bird or bush,
Like nothing else in Tennessee.
from The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (1982, Vintage)
I love this little grouping. It's like a family of trash. Twisted metal sculpture is the dad. Broken white plastic lawn chair is his trophy wife. Beside them are the kids—sculpture dad's second family—tire rim and rusted table top. Don't they make a happy group? During these tough economic times, they like to gather under the scrubby trees and tell stories about when they were young and rust-free, before the world wore them out and discarded them.
I think that this orange plastic webbing got left behind after the repairs to the leaky pipes that created the stinky mud hole and caused us dog owners such grief last year. Notice how, in such a short time, the wilderness really has grown up around it. I'll bet most of us never even notice it any more.
Ah, the ubiquitous beer can. This one has chameleon-like qualities. Notice how its gold and green coloring helps it blend in with the wood chips around it. After all, aluminum is a metal found in nature. This baby is just trying to return to its roots.
This one slays me. The cup is setting right next to the dumpster. Someone needs to tell this litter bug that dogs can't drink from straws. (It's like a Hopper painting, no? The long shadows at the end of day, signaling mortality and the trappings of a materialist society. Note: This is a gratuitous cultural reference.) Sometimes trash is just trash. Thanks to whoever picked it up and put it in the dumpster.