I’m not sure how many of you realize how lucky you are to have curbside garbage pick up.  I’m sure if I lived in a city then I would take it for granted too; I’d maybe even grumble about the bill.  Up here at the end of the Gunflint Trail we don’t have curbs or garbage pick up.  We have a dumpster located about five miles from our place so we have to transport our garbage on a regular basis.

     I actually enjoy taking the garbage to the dump.  I know that probably sounds strange but it has always been a way to get away for a few minutes and have time to myself.  There are other dumpsters for businesses at our site as well as one that some homeowners share.  Our dumpster is getting old and has some spots that have rusted out.  This allows small animals such as chipmunks, squirrels and birds to get into the dumpster.  Sometimes these little critters take the garbage out of the dumpster and make a little mess.  Lately something has been making a big mess.

     Remember that bear I told you about that Jessica saw earlier this summer?  Well it is still around and causing some trouble at the canister site.  There’s always been a little garbage around but today I received a phone call about a lot of garbage at the canister site.  I was informed by a neighbor that the lid to our dumpster was wide open and there was garbage everywhere.

     This puzzled me.  I’ve been the one taking the garbage for the past week and I’ve brought a rake and a shovel with so I could spend time cleaning up the area a bit.  I knew I had closed the dumpster and locked it and was perplexed at how anyone or any thing could get it open.

     To solve the mystery I hopped into the pick up truck to investigate.  When I got to the dump one lid was indeed wide open. (Don’t ask me why the neighbor who called didn’t close it, I still haven’t figured that out).  There was garbage strewn about and some very happy chipmunks, whiskey jacks and red squirrels who were having quite the feast in my dumpster.

     The lock was still locked but the bar that keeps the lids shut on the dumpster had been pulled through the hole.  I still don’t understand how it happened but I knew it was a bear.  There were paw prints all over all of the dumpsters and teeth marks in the garbage.  Maybe I should mention the obvious signs such as piles of bear poo everywhere too.

     I was determined to get the place cleaned up so with rubber gloves, shovel and rake in hand I got to work.  I scoured around all of the dumpsters and even went back into the woods for a look at older garbage that had been dragged there in previous years.  I got to a small clearing and sitting just a short distance from me was the bear Jessica had seen.

     He sat staring at me and didn’t make any effort to move.  I was a little irritated with this bear for making so much work for me so I decided to give him a piece of my mind.  I yelled at him and charged at him and he quickly ran into the woods.  Quite satisfied with my victory I went back to my business of picking up slimy, smelly garbage.

     A little while later I went down another path in search of more trash.  I could see a black lump in the grass and realized the bear was back.  This time I got downright angry and charged at him with my rake in hand, challenging him to make a stand.  The bear again retreated and let me go about my pursuit of happiness at a clean dump site.

     Our dumpster isn’t real big and sometimes we have more garbage than what appears to fit inside of the dumpster.  A garbage expert like me knows how to get their money’s worth out of a dumpster load of garbage.  A dumpster is never really full until the fat lady jumps on it.  I have proven this point many times over the years as employees have come back from taking trash with bags still in the back of the pick up and the lame excuse, "The dumpster is full." 

     Yes, I guess I could be considered a trash compacter as I jump up and down on top of the bags to make more room in my dumpster.  It is a smelly job and sometimes you have to get your feet wet with slime but the satisfaction of closing the lid and knowing you couldn’t get another sheet of paper in is an unbelievable feeling. 

     So there I was jumping up and down in my dumpster having a grand old time getting poked in the legs with other people’s rubbish when what to my amazement did I see in a clearing?  Yes!  The bear was laughing at me trying to get all of the garbage back into the dumpster when he knew all along he was just going to make another mess out of it. 

     If you thought I was mad before then you should have seen me then.  I’m pretty sure steam was coming out of my ears as I leapt off of the dumpster, grabbed the rake and charged after that black mass of garbage eating bear shouting obscenities that even I couldn’t understand.  The yellow bellied bear ran away again and that just made me even more mad. 

     As my face faded from red to a more normal shade of white I collected my thoughts.  I wanted to stand my ground with the bear and defend my dumpster and the prized contents within it.  I didn’t want to let that animal think he could just walk over to the dumpster and get what he wanted without a fight.  I thought about going home to get a tent and a shot gun so I could let him have it for good when he returned.

     Then I realized I was going a little bit overboard.  What bear wouldn’t covet my dumpster filled with dirty diapers and maggots?  Could I blame him for wanting a fast, easy and delicious meal?  Of course not. 

     I crawled off of my dumpster with shovel and rake in hand and placed them into the back of the truck.  I removed my yellow gloves like a boxer calling it quits and sat down in the driver seat.  A part of me wanted to wait around for him to return so I could say, "Go ahead, good luck, I hope you find what you want, just please only take what you can eat and eat what you take." 

     I longed to get one last glimpse of him as I drove off into the sunset, looking into my rear view mirror and smelling disgusting to man and nummy to my friend the bear.