My absolute favorite day of the year in Ludington is not July 4th, like the vast majority of people who live here, it’s not Gus Macker, the annual outdoor basketball tournament on the beach…… No, my absolute favorite day of the year is the last Saturday of April, Ludington’s annual Spring Clean Up.
I first learned of this local phenomenon last year, when the move from New York City was still very fresh. I was 7 months pregnant and out for my daily walk when I noticed obscene amounts of trash piled up all over town. Almost every house had a trash pile out front. I noticed people driving or walking around going from pile to pile, inspecting and selecting items to take. Trucks and vans packed with collected street trash. Ludington is a pretty quiet town, but on that day there were people all over the place… driving or walking. Kinda like an annual sidewalk sale, but nothing is for sale. It’s all free… because it’s all trash. My friend Jamie, who grew up in Ludington, told me the locals refer to this as, “Going picking.”
I have never seen anything like it in my life.
This year, the day was marked on my calendar.
Residents can start putting trash out on the curb no earlier than 4pm on Thursday and pick up is on Saturday morning. In the meantime, the scavengers scavenge.
and piles of trash.
Sometimes people go pickin’ solo… Sometimes in groups.
Sometimes driving… sometimes walking.
I did some scavenging of my own. On our afternoon walk, LBD and I came across some plastic planters.
Don’t mind if I do!
Picked ‘em up for my growing seedlings that need to be potted before the move.
LBD was not amused.
In the evening, as Jamie and I drove around to watch the festivities she made a good point. She said, “Can you imagine all of this stuff was in someone’s house?” Which got me thinking. How much do we really need? I’m mean… REALLY need. A good chunk of the people “picking” planned on taking their findings to the scrap yard for cash. And it’s better that the items be put to use than end up in a landfill. But I wonder how much of what was out on the curb was picked over from the last year’s trash pickup day? How much of it is acquired in the course of a year? Is it necessary?
Will and I have packed up the majority of our house and plan on finishing this weekend. It will all go in storage for the summer. (I’ll get to that reasoning in a minute.) While we were packing we were fantasizing about not having so much stuff. “Let’s sell it all!” “Let’s donate the rest!” Very tempting. Especially, when you have to pack as often as we do. Going back to putting our belongings away for the summer part mentioned… We were graciously offered a place to live at my best friend’s parent’s house in Kansas until we can move into our house in August. We accepted with humility and gratitude. I spent most of my teenage years in their house, so in a way it will be an extended stay with my other family. Everything is starting to fall into place.
Back to Spring Clean Up…
Out of good fun. Jamie and I decided to select the our favorite “Picker of the Year”…
This truck was so full, the drivers were pushing it down the street.
And as items fell off the top, they had to stop and place them back on.
The winners! The kings of picking!! Posing with their loot.
Ludington Spring Clean Up, you will be missed.