White Trash Symphony

John and Jake. This was a couple of weeks ago. The snow is finally gone, now. 

A windy night, and I was awakened by the instantly recognizable sound of an empty five-gallon bucket tumbling across the barnyard, the distinctive rattle of the metal handle slapping against the hard plastic. It’s a white trash symphony, I thought, and then was pleased enough at my cleverness that I lay awake imaging how much fun it’d be to start a band named White Trash Symphony. I have now offered a particularly intimate glimpse into the inner workings of my semi-conscious mind. It would be cruel of you to take advantage.

We have a lot of five-gallon plastic buckets. They blight the landscape, are forever upended, always rolling down hillsides to lay their smooth sides against the rough bark of an apple tree. But they’re as useful as they are ugly: We use them to carry feed to the pigs, as impromptu ladders, to haul sap. The boys draw targets on the leakers, then aerate them further with .22 rounds. It is hard to imagine life without these buckets, they’re one of those unheralded inventions, like strike-on-box matches or toilet paper, that we fail to appreciate until they’re gone, and then are thrown into a minor panic. Though the truth is we never allow our supply of buckets to run dry: I bet even a cursory search would unearth a dozen-and-a-half water-tight buckets on this property.

In the night, drifting softly between states of consciousness, I listened as the bucket tumbled and rattled with each gust. Soon enough, I heard only the wind, and I knew that come morning, I’d find the bucket up against a tree, or maybe the paddock fence. I’d retrieve it, return it to its proper resting place, pleased to have this small bit of order restored. Knowing how temporary it would be.


8 thoughts on “White Trash Symphony”

  1. This post made me think of Dylan Tomine’s book, “Closer to the Ground”. Really good book. The opening line of one chapter: “Blue tarps, freight pallets, five-gallon buckets: the unholy trinity of hillbilly yard art.” We have all three, so we’re the token hillbillies in the burbs.

  2. We’ve got 12 of those buckets sitting in our dining room….full of spring water. We drive to a spring every month or so to fill up. Once emptied they go out onto the deck, where they offer privacy from neighbors in form of a wall. There is another bucket in the garden, just in case…it gets used pretty often. There are 3 more in the closet full of basmati rice. I’ve also got one on my head, just to see if my kid will still take me seriously?

  3. We have our share of 5 gallon buckets here, too. It doesn’t seem like too long ago that my boys would wriggle themselves down inside one then lean to the side till they toppled over and just laugh and laugh. I reminded them of this the other day and they tried to fit but are too big now. Sniff!

  4. This reminded me of having to lug those buckets out of the horses’ stalls every Saturday and Sunday morning at the horse farm…I loathed it. Five gallons of water is damn heavy! This post made me miss it, regardless.

  5. I’m a fan of 5-gallon buckets, particularly so if they have the the Gamma-Seal brand of screw-on lids installed to keep whatever you put into them dry. There are at least a dozen in my garage, a few more in the storage unit, and probably three dozen in a variety of different colors in an effort to more easily identify that which is specifically needed at that point in time at the summer pasture storage unit in Fairplay, CO.

    Come to think of it, each of the cars has one in back, my wife’s has two, one with a lid to store things and one without a lid for her gardening tools and to use for carrying water when she is tending to family graves at the cemeteries. Mine has more useful stuff; fishing kit, sunscreen, bug repellent, some duct tape, paracord, hose clamps, a pocket knife, a multi-tool, vise-grips, and a ratchet handle with a Gator-Grip universal socket. The old mechanized infantryman philosophy that it is better to have and not need, than to need and not have if you’re not carrying in on your back wherever you go.

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