One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

Why?” This query was from my wife, and was in response to what was in the front of my johnboat.  

I had just returned from a river cleanup with a somewhat worse-for-wear picnic table. It was just part of what I had removed from Upper Current River that morning.  

The tires and six large bags of trash I had left at a dumpsite.

This was probably asked partly because this was the third such table I had brought home in the past few years.  

Recovered from other stream cleanups, one had been given away and another refurbished and used on our farm. 

The last had taken a fair amount of work and a bit of money to be made serviceable. The one sitting in my boat would require even more.

I responded with a quote. Perhaps a bit lame, but nothing she was not used to. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”

Original author unknown; this phrase had been around for a while. Often true. Literally as well as metaphorically.  

To appreciate its reality, perhaps we need to review our concepts of treasure. William Penn believed “Knowledge… the treasure of wise men.” Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum believed knowledge the “best and safest treasure to acquire.” 

Explorer Christopher Columbus claimed “Gold…. a treasure” and thought “he who possesses it does all he wishes to in this world.” Ralph Waldo Emerson thought “Truth… the treasure of all men.”  

Ground-breaking sports figure Jackie Robinson believed the “richest treasure anybody has is his personal dignity.” Novelist Louisa May Alcott thought “a faithful friend” a treasure.

And then, of course, we must look at trash. All too quickly some of us consider the majority of what modern television and cinema has to offer.  

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Phones. Appliances. Computers. Cars. All designed with a very limited life expectancy. Too often relationships fall into a similar timeframe.

Back to the item that spawned this discussion. The table. A government issue most likely washed downstream from one of our national parks.  

As it now exists; trash. Several hundred pounds of it. Timbers water-soaked and the hollow steel frame full of sand. And twisted.

The last one we rescued required all new hardware, several new boards and lots of paint. This applied after several power washings and some scraping and sanding. Now, treasure.

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