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  • Writer's pictureJean Linville

Sex & Recycling

This past week seemed to be characterized by all of life's stages with butterflies laying eggs, caterpillars being born and the death of a great blue heron in the lake right by our dock. The heron appeared to have simply died on the spot, while standing in water up to its knees. The body was almost completely intact except for its internal organs and a bit of flesh missing from one leg. My best guess is that a snapping turtle attacked it, but who knows. I pulled it up onto our dock and then later buried it at the edge of the lake. A few days later, the regenerative aspect of life was readily apparent as evidence of a nighttime visitor feasting on the heron was found as well as pairs and pairs of copulating insects.

It seemed everywhere I looked on our little parcel of land there were dragonflies, damselflies and just regular, run of the mill flies busy mating. They were to be found by the lake's edge, on the step to my studio, on my compost bin and even on the lip of our recycling can. I found the procreating flies on our recycling can just moments after the garbage was picked up as I went to pull the garbage and recycling cans back down into our yard. I didn't have the heart to disrupt them, so I just waited near the cans and started pondering all kinds of things, including how the natural world is just one big recycling loop and how we are the only creatures that produce things that are not part of this natural cycle. This led me to wonder when exactly it was that we all started recycling our non-decomposing waste.

As the universe would have it, the next time I listened to NPR there was a story about the origins of recycling in this country. Rather than go into detail here, I think it is best if you listen to the piece yourself because it involves some interesting subjects including a garbage barge, organized crime and an interview with gentleman from North Carolina who never had a garbage can growing up and yet he would prove to be instrumental in the start of curbside recycling . To hear this incredible story click on 1987, the year recycling as we know it started. Thank you to the flies for getting me to stop and consider the recycling of trash and life and to the heron for reminding me just how precious everyday is.

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