I think if I had a time traveling machine, the first place I’d travel is back in time to figure out how my back yard ended up the way it did. Forget time travel to the Elizabethan era, Biblical times, or the Kennedy assassination. I want to know: Did someone use my shed as a garage? Did they use part of it as a chicken coop? What’s the story with that hole in the middle of its wall?
These are questions for the ages. Working in my backyard often feels like a (really, really boring) archeological dig. My latest project is taking down a chain link fence that is up against a wooden fence that runs the length of my property. It’s been there for decades and inexplicably has a gate leading into the neighbor’s yard.
It never really bothered me because it was covered by trees and vines and you don’t really see it that much with the wooden fence. But this summer I decided I was finished with those vines and the fence. Mostly because some of the vines are poison ivy and the small animal who sleeps with me rubs against them on romps through the yard (see the threat below).
Here’s a fun fact: The city of Charlotte won’t collect chain link fence in their bulk waste disposal service. Personally, I feel I’m paying way too much in taxes for that not to be included, but that’s a blog for a different day.
So, after some extensive Googling, I found a scrap metal yard just north of town. I went there on a Saturday morning, when it opened at 8:30, and thus began a journey into a world I didn’t know existed.
I ended up having to go to three scrap yards. Turns out no one likes chain link fence. All of them were packed with people before 9 a.m., driving their cars onto massive scales and receiving money for their scrap metal. The scrap yards themselves were crazy places—wide open red dirt landscapes just outside of town filled with twisted pieces of metal. At the first one I felt like I was driving into some African military base (in large part because the man who came to greet me was Kenyan and wearing full camo and aviator glasses).
When I finally found a place to drop the metal, I was simply told “Just drop it by that rusted out refrigerator.” Sure. That’s usually where I put things.
I’ll have to return to the scrap yards a few more times as I finish up this yard project, and I’m thrilled about it. I love discovering entire subcultures I know nothing about. Life can be feeling a little boring and then all of the sudden you find yourself navigating rusted out refrigerators and the cost of galvanized steel. I take adventures where I can get them.