The Girl Who Saves Dryer Lint

I contemplate the garbage. Every time I throw something away, I have to consider: can anything visible be construed as treasure?

And Fern, god love her, can sure construe.

Tonight I excavated from what Fern calls my “treasure pocket” the following haul: four Band-Aid wrappers, a sheet of clear plastic wrap, the hanging tag from a new pair of socks, a wilted flower, and yes, some pretty dryer lint. I tossed everything my daughter had gathered directly into the bin, but instinctively made sure to artfully arrange a layer of tissue paper over them so they weren’t too obvious.

Think I’m going to extremes?

Yesterday, Fern the archaeologist recovered an empty sheet of stickers from the kitchen trash. No actual stickers were tossed, mind you, but she still considered it worth the effort to extract the backing sheet from the grotty garbage can — you know, just in case we suddenly come into a bequest of thousands of stickers — without backing!

I’ve tried to uncover the source of this behavior a few times — today I asked Fern why she wanted to save her long-expired toothbrush. For not the first time and certainly not the last, she blamed school. “They do treasure there!” she told me, which is true — the teachers sometimes toss sequins into the sand so the kids can play excavators.

And most kids give the treasure back, or at most, glue the sparkles onto an art project. Mine? At pick-up time, I have to sweep her cubby to get all the “treasure” out, not to mention the gallon of sand she’s managed to collect at the same time.

She’s got pirate blood, I guess.