Remember the old saying one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? That definitely is true for me!

My kids laugh at me because I have been known to dumpster dive at a moments notice, or veer out of traffic to  a random rummage sale.


That’s when your teen slouches down in their seat, and pretends to be invisible, or perhaps denies knowing you!

Recently I was reading my Mary Jane’s Farm magazine and came across an article written by Kelly Sullivan Pezza. I could so relate to the humor of the article that I’ve decided to share some with you.

She  wrote:  For years my daughter has taken our weekend drives in stride, not really caring about the purpose of these jaunts. However, as she approaches 13, I fear it’s only a matter of time before she starts slumping down in the backseat, determined to conceal what she might not want her friends to know: Mommy is a DUMPSTER DIVER!

I’ve explained to her why what I do is so important. I’ve lugged home waterlogged books, aged photographs of strangers, and unidentifiable homemade crafts from other eras. This rusty, dusty junk, as she calls it, is reincarnated in my home, and although she doesn’t realize it because she has never known any differently, it fills the atmosphere we live in with a sense of being connected to something larger than ourselves. It blends our stories with those of the people these objects belonged to.

Those who are cleaning out an estate, and throwing its contents into a container headed for the landfill have never refused my request to dumpster dive, once its been established that any risk is my own responsibility. The rewards have been worth the risks. I keep office supplies in a handmade wooden box, decoupaged with the image of a flower and probably made sometime in the mid 20th century. A handmade wooden tray holds my kitchen canisters. Portraits of people I don’t know smile at us from where they are frozen within the borders of the 1800’s.  And a collection of tin boxes is crammed with the penned recipes of women who, although gone, assist me with putting meals on our table.

I’ve tried to make my daughter understand that these rusty, dusty, wet, moldy artifacts are not trash.  They are someone’s memories, accomplishments, interests, and souvenirs. They’re the remnants of a life, and by rescuing them, we have become caretakers.

“I know Mom”, she sighs, listening to this explanation each time we bake cookies according to  a grease stained recipe from the 1920’s, or rearrange things to accommodate yet another black and white picture of yet another nameless individual. Sometimes, I’m not sure I’m getting through to her. But other times, I think I might be. Today, she had a friend over and came inside for the metal detector, explaining that they were going to look for old hand-forged nails out back where a shed had once stood.  I asked why. “Because I know it will make you happy if I give them to you,” she answered. I can only imagine the conversation as they scanned the ground in search of rusted nails that held together a building long ago. Perhaps my daughter didn’t divulge the purpose of the hunt, I told myself, or maybe, just maybe, she bravely shared that her mom is a dumpster diver.

Was it too optimistic to think that maybe, after all, she won’t slump down in the car during our future trash to treasure forays? Was it reaching to think that, eventually, her ambivalent attitude toward my hobby will develop into her own personal appreciation of times past? That one day, she’ll look at those receptacles filled with old objects and see people and their memories instead of trash, not because I told her to, but because she has had her own revelation? I think I can hold out hope for this. She came running back into the house squealing, “Mom look!” And I’ve never seen such a look of excitement over a collection of rusty, dusty, hand-forged nails, held out in my little girl’s dirt-covered hands.

 I hope you’ve enjoy this story as much as I have! Happy dumpster diving, until next time!