The Stick Pile

Ten years ago when my kids’ Dad and I moved into this house, we threw all the extra sticks from the lawn into a pile behind the garage. I don’t remember why we started doing it. Perhaps we thought we’d burn the sticks for bonfires.

Over time, the stick pile turned into a collection of discarded weeds, extra rock and even scraps of wood from various remodeling projects. It was like my own yard waste-compost pile. Or so I told myself.

Season after season, year after year, the stick pile grew. At first it was quick and convenient. We knew exactly where to put the extra sticks and yard waste. It worked for me and I was content adding to the pile.

The last few years, now entirely responsible for the house and the yard, I noticed the pile was getting bigger. It gave me a nagging feeling. A feeling that it was getting too big and that at some point it would have to be dealt with.

This spring, as the snow finally melted away and I worked to clean up the yard, I realized it was time. The convenient place I threw away the extra sticks now needed to be reckoned with. It was an eyesore. For the first time I started to HATE the stick pile. I needed to get rid of it, and as soon as possible.

Previously afraid to build a fire on my own, I decided to push through the fear and learn how so I could burn up that giant stick pile. And so over the course of a few weeks, we had two or three fires – each time burning through more and more sticks. And toasted some marshmallows. The kids were proud of me for making a fire by myself, and the truth is, I was, too.

But I knew I couldn’t have enough fires to get rid of this pile. So I bundled the sticks. In fact, I mastered the art of bundling – 4 feet long and an armful wide. And each week I brought two large bundles (the maximum allowed) to the edge of the driveway for the trash service to take away.

Between the fires and the bundling, you’d think I’d clear through that stick pile in no time. But, it was taking longer than I could handle. And the further down I got in the stick pile, the smaller and more decomposed the sticks were. The bottom layer was almost like a compost. I decided I needed to start bagging what was left of the pile. I bought a number of yard waste bags and got to work.

Hours later, I had filled two bags. Another day, I filled three more. Hard, dirty work turned into five large bags full of busted up sticks and yard waste, ready to leave my yard forever. I raked out the dirt where the sticks once lay. Buried deepest in that stick pile I uncovered a few pieces of trash, and shockingly, window blinds from when we first moved into the house.

Tonight, when I carried the bags to the end of my driveway for the trash service, I felt a sense of accomplishment and pride.

With dirty feet and a clear head, I came in for the night. Sitting on the edge of the bathtub, scrubbing the dirt from my feet, I had one of those moments. The stick pile – 10 years of discarded trash – was finally gone. I felt emotional and there were (unexpected) tears. It was symbolic, of course. Of problems, of marriage, of everything in life I tried to put in neat little piles with the hopes I could just deal with them later.

I promised myself – there would be no more stick piles.


photo credit: tsaarni via flickr creative commons
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3 Responses to “the stick pile”

  1. Abby says:

    Ooh this is a good one!! I guess it’s good to face your sticks instead of letting them pile up…

  2. Jenny says:

    Love this. Good for you, Missy!

  3. Ruby Leigh says:

    Well written post. Thanks for this.



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