Back before our valley had garbage service, and long before Kootenai County opened its recycling transfer center near Post Falls, my in-laws burned their garbage in oil drums and dumped their trash in a low spot of a normally-dry spring bed.
During my walks up the old trail that parallels the spring, I always noticed a rusting oil drum and an old metal stove down among the hawthorn trunks. This winter, I put cleaning out the spring bed on my to-do list. Today was to-do day. The snow had cleared, the trail was firm and dry, and I could access the junk without fighting my way through leafy hawthorn branches.
Pepper appeared as if from nowhere as soon as I started up the ATV, and ran alongside me to the base of the trail, where I unhooked the trailer and freed up the hitch ball for use as a rope dally. From there, Pepper struck out on his own, appearing now and then on his way among the trees. I stopped at the "dump" and tied off the old oil barrel, dragging it free of the spring bed with a well-used nylon lariat wrapped around the ATV ball hitch. Next came the metal stove. Then a large tangle of barbed wire I hadn't seen before. After clearing out the big stuff, I eased down into the spring and started throwing up to the trail a diverse collection of junk that I'd just exposed: part of a lawn mower, bits of a leather draft-horse harness, clear and brown bottles, tin cans, a car inner tube, plastic Clorox bottles.
When I finished, I turned the ATV back down the trail, hooked up the trailer, drove back up the spring, tossed all of the detritus into the trailer bed, and pulled it all back up to our house, where I switched the ATV for our SUV. Next stop, the recycling transfer station in Pleasantview. My reward: Mexican for lunch, and a cleaner spring bed.