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The Chilmark dumpscape on Martha’s Vineyard, playground of the elites, Sunday afternoon. It’s just where anyone would want to be. In fact, just where everyone is, scrumming for a prime spot in front of the sorting table.
Captains of industry and finance had loaded their Range Rovers with empties whose partially peeled labels bespoke the best names in French viniculture. They were hunting on the trashy hilltop for the green glass bins. They prowled in the teeth of wind­ driven grit, which exfoliated their carefully honed complexions and the paint jobs on their SUVs, all at the same time. A kind of enhanced productivity two­for, you might say.
It had been that sort of week. It was a week that ought to have ended up at the dump. It began with a bit of unsuccessful varmint hunting. Some creature, probably a skunk, had been excavating my wife Molly’s perennial garden. Not the live and let live sort, her mood has become murderous, and naturally there has arisen a loud call for action on my part. (Why I immediately come to mind when the subject is illicit nocturnal activity, I cannot explain. It hurts, if you want the truth.)
I have historically had some success at varmint eradication, including the execution of an extremely wily raccoon that thought it was a finch. Sometimes one comes serendipitously upon a skunk, and blam, as Molly would say. That’s that. One never comes serendipitously upon a raccoon, if such is the culprit. They’re too smart.
Called to arms, I set my standard trap. I perched the dog’s stainless steel food bowl on an upturned plastic drinking cup, over the cement cesspool cover. I put a handful of Kibbles ‘n’ Bits in the pan. All marauding varmints love Kibbles ‘n’ Bits. I should report, for those who might be inspired to try this approach. After years of employment in this service, the dog’s bowl is extensively pockmarked by birdshot, and the dog is a heavy contributor to the lobby against firearms.
I turned the outside light on. Midnight. Clang, clang, clatter. I’m up, drowsily vigilant, but it’s just a stray cat. I held my fire. Back to bed. Three a.m. Clang, clang, clatter. This time, nothing’s there at all. Which has me thinking that we may be dealing with a raccoon of superior cleverness. Not good.
Anyhow, the score: varmint one, me nought (actually negative one, a night’s sleep lost). Molly’s mood grim. Glances in my direction have a sort of whatpossible­good­are­you subtext.
At moments like this, one casts about for escape, perhaps a chance to get out on the water, tootle around in the boat. But, I suspect that shirking may not be my best move. 
Stuck, there was nothing left but to assemble the new grill. The old one rusted out, and I took it to the dump and paid $3 to leave it there. Actually, the old lawn mower did the same, and I paid $3 for it too.
The new grill required some assembly, and boy, that was no lie. Not that it was hard. Anyone could have figured it out, anyone who didn’t have something better to do with an afternoon. But putting the grill together wasn’t half the job. Unpacking the whole thing left the garage filled with cardboard, and you know what you have to do with cardboard? You have to break it down, tie it or tape it up, and chauffeur it over to the dump.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all in favor of recycling, no matter how much it costs. I am big for recycling, the way I was big for confession and penance when I was a kid (usually three Hail Marys, once the Apostles’ Creed and two Rosaries for a whopper), the way my in­laws were big for early morning plunges into frigid mountain pools, the way monks are big for hair shirts, the way some folks are big for self­-flagellation of the non­sporting sort. But, no matter the wisdom or desirability or utility of it, folks say it feels so good when it’s done. For me, and I suspect also for the A-listers I dump with, it’s not going to the dump that lifts the heart. It’s leaving the dump that puts a bounce in the step and a song on the lips, even after a week as rocky as this one. 

News Hounds will be available at the end of July.

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