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One man's trash is another woman's treasure

Despite the non-existence of a lawn by our cabin, I have developed a bit of a preoccupation with lawn furniture over the past years.

Despite the non-existence of a lawn by our cabin, I have developed a bit of a preoccupation with lawn furniture over the past years. I’ve kept it secret because in the past, I have always scoffed at things like camping chairs and mosquito tents, declaring them utterly superfluous items fit for only weekend cottage owners. After all, there’s the ground to sit on and why would anybody want to look at the scenery through a wall of netting, anyway?

So it is a bit embarrassing to admit that I’ve been hearing the siren call of outdoor recliners. Must be the onset of old age. For the past couple of summers, I’ve felt a yearning to set up a nice comfy chair somewhere outside, get a book and my sunglasses, tilt the chair into the reclining position and succumb to weekend cottagism. The rosy mental image has so far been kept in check by such facts of life as the varying combination of weather and bug population: rare is the day when it would be warm, windstill and bugless enough to actually indulge in it.

Ninety per cent of the time it seems like there are either too many bugs, it is way too hot or else too cold. I haven’t yet changed my view of mosquito tents as silly things for sissies and so had shelved the lawn furniture craving under “desires caused by clever marketing companies - do not give in,” and not considered buying anything.

But when I paid a visit to the dump on my last town trip, a folded up wood and canvas bundle caught my eye and strongly tugged on my subconscience. As I went over to investigate and unfold it, the tug became a sharp pull - in my hands was an old canvas camp cot. Somehow, I couldn’t think of any use for it at first. We have beds for guests and certainly wouldn’t lug around a heavy contraption like this when we go camping. I almost would have put it away again if an agonized internal voice hadn’t suddenly screeched “lawn furniture.”

Then it dawned on me that here was the most perfect recliner I could have wished for. Sure, there was no way to actually put the cot into a sitting position (a minor flaw that would be the perfect excuse for lounging on it at all and leave me the illusion of not having stooped to cottage level), but the mere old beaten-up looks of it would fit most beautifully into the clearing by our cabin. No aluminum and plastic eyesore this. I refolded the cot and set it aside to browse some more on the dump after this fruitful beginning.

While I hate shopping with a passion, looking at things at the dump is a whole different ballgame, a lot like frequenting a second hand store. You rarely find what you’re looking for but sometimes stumble across real treasures. Finding the cot had indeed been a good omen because next I spied a stationary exercise bike.

Keeping fit is not a major concern with our lifestyle; what made me immediately hop on the bike and test it was that you can build and hook up a battery charger to a bike. I wasn’t too sure about how that works, something to do with magnets or an alternator, I hadn’t researched it in detail yet because the key ingredient was a bike.

Setting up a regular bike would leave us with zero room to move around in the cabin - this way of recharging batteries would be winter thing when the solar panel doesn’t get enough light. But a stationary bike is so much more compact. The one on the dump seemed to work OK, so I took it over to the camp cot, hardly believing my luck.

Further exploration yielded little of value to us, except for a pair of crutches. Luckily, we don’t have an immediate need for them, but they might come in handy one day for either of us, so I put them aside as well. Reluctant to leave, I packed up a rug carpet in a hideous pink colour and then finally called it quits.

Now I am well-prepared to suffer through the rest of this terribly hot summer: I can manoeuvre my limp, heat-struck body on crutches over to the camp cot, wilt on it in a shady and windy spot, shock myself back into action by looking at the pink rug and then jump onto the exercise bike in fall to charge up the 12V battery. To get all the parts for building the charger, of course another visit to dump might be in order.

Lisa Hasselbring is a writer who lives at the headwaters of the Yukon River south of Whitehorse.