“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”



Okay. I’m ready. At first I resisted, because I hate new beginnings, especially when I am so comfortable with the old. But all good things come to an end. I don’t know who said that. I think it was Pope Benedict XVI or Mussolini.

We’re told that the flotsam and jetsam that we once casually discarded to lighten our over-taxed vessels, has overwhelmed the state’s resources, and is ending. Precise recycling is enjoying its beginning. Thank you, Seneca.

This means that She, who put THAT in THERE, will have to stop and put IT in THERE. That’s recycling in a nutshell. Nutshells by the way go in with the wet stuff….I think.


I ended my Hollywood beginning some 30 years ago in August and started my new beginning here. I’ve seen a lot of beginnings come and go. When I got off the bus, I was still young — 50 — but looking 20, and full of vinegar and sass. I bought this house that was way too big for the old man that I would become.

After this purchase, I was broke. So I put She, who had experience teaching inner city gang members, to work teaching. Thus, new beginnings for both of us.

The big house came, unexpectedly, with an even bigger lawn. In Los Angeles, I had a big house with a small front lawn. Still, I was shamed by my neighbors into hiring a gardener who used an old-fashioned lawn mower. He was great at crabgrass.

Here in Maine however, I discovered, real men deal with their own crabgrass by riding big powerful mowers with radios, bottle holders and I think, built-in sauce racks.

Some even have rearview mirrors, so they can see what they did behind them, or who or what they killed.

Terrified by such creatures, I bought a regular lawnmower, the first of four that I broke by pulling the strings too hard and too fast. Then there was the BIG beginning. Autumn came with leaves.


In Los Angeles, the leaves don’t turn to bright colors like they do here. I’m not kidding. They turn a kind of brownish gray, and then hang there, kind of like out-of-work actors.

But then the leaves fell, and fell and fell, week after week. I frolicked in them like a 9-year-old. Then my neighbor told me I had to stop frolicking and rake them up before they blew over in her yard.

So I bought a rake and raked them into 16 piles. Then this neighbor said, “You have to rake them down to the gutter and the ‘leaf man’ comes and begins to suck them up with this big vacuum cleaner.” I loved the leaf man. If you were clever, you could hide small trash in the big piles. Instant recycling.

For 30 years, every Thursday I would put two black bags full of garbage and trash, 16 of them after Christmas, curbside. Then some young men came in a truck and took them away. There was some recycling with a big blue box for newspapers. I would put all of my newspapers in it with my column page face up, hoping the young men would read it. That didn’t happen.

Now a new beginning looms on the horizon. Word reaches me that our city council is considering a plan that will usher in a grand new era of recycling. As of yet, no one on the city council or on Facebook, has answered my questions about how exactly it will work. I’m not sure they know yet. They say that this idea will save someone, clearly not you and me, a lot of money.

A caveat: We recyclers will be required to go someplace and shell out two bucks to buy a new bag to separate the “stuff.” The new two-buck bags, I’m told, may be orange, so that the trash police will know we’re not cheating. I’m told that later this summer I will get a flyer to post on the fridge that tells me what to put in the various bags.


True story: I had a very successful writer friend who lived in Beverly Hills, so embarrassed by his drinking problem that he would put his pile of weekly scotch, gin, beer and brandy bottles in bags, drive them to another neighborhood late at night, and leave them on strangers’ curbs. Now THAT’S recycling — Hollywood style.

So let the new beginning of recycling begin. I’m ready. Now that I’m saving money on the new vegan diet, I will have more than the required two bucks for the bags.

Spread the word city wide: Orange is the new black.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

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