Our Town – May 7, 2009
Drunk on sunshine and happily munching a donut, the Soupster staggered down to a rocky beach near the end of the road. For the first time this year — in homage to the growing warmth and light — the Soupster had tossed his winter coat to the back of the closet and donned a fleece…
Drunk on sunshine and happily munching a donut, the Soupster staggered down to a rocky beach near the end of the road. For the first time this year — in homage to the growing warmth and light — the Soupster had tossed his winter coat to the back of the closet and donned a fleece vest instead. This day was so warm the Soupster considered yanking off his boots and socks, setting on a rock and soaking his toes in Sitka Sound until they wrinkled.
But that dream bubble popped when the Soupster nearly stepped on Gavin “Frenchy” Leboyer, who crouched by the water’s edge. The Soupster stopped chewing.
“What gives you ze right to bare arms?” quipped Leboyer, in the fake French accent that earned him his nickname.
The Soupster extended his arms and savored the sun on his skin. “You look like a scuttling crab down there, Frenchy,” he said, laughing. “Le Crabe!” He took stock of his crouching friend. “Whatever are you doing?”
Frenchy was pulling plastic containers out of his backpack, popping the lids and sprinkling the contents – various leftovers – onto the rocks by the water’s edge. “It’s my last two weeks of cooked food scraps,” he said. “Just repaying the ocean’s bounty.”
“That’s got to be illegal,” said the Soupster. “Littering, maybe?”
“I’m a good boy,” said Frenchy. “I’ve been composting my uncooked table scraps for years. But I’ve always thrown the cooked leftovers into the trash and one day I said to myself — `This is excellent food, I eat it myself. I bet something in the ocean will eat this, too.’”
“I don’t know,” said the Soupster. “This brings to mind the bad old days when cities like New York would just load all their garbage into ships and dump the trash in at sea.”
“Not the same,” said Frenchy. “That was all kinds of stuff, a lot of which was poisonous or not food, like metal and concrete. This is the good stuff. I guarantee you there’s some critters who won’t turn up their noses. Or whatever they have on their face that they turn up. If they have a face, that is.”
Frenchy sprinkled the food in a small circle as the Soupster watched. Frenchy reached down and picked up what looked like the last gasp of a partially eaten Big Mac. “I just keep thinking about this hamburger taking the long trip by barge and train to the Eastern Washington landfill where all Our Town’s trash goes. And then it gets buried and rots and belches methane.”
“Except the stuff we recycle,” said the Soupster. “And that’s more and more every month.”
“Look at this,” Frenchy said, indicating the leftovers that the rising tide was already starting to digest. “Think of how disgusting this stuff would be by the time it got to the landfill.”
“You may be on to something, Frenchy,” the Soupster said. “Nature doesn’t waste anything, One creature’s offal is another’s dinner.”
“Just don’t turn me in.” Frenchy pleaded.
“Mum’s the word,” said the Soupster, zipping his lip. Then he looked at the sea. “Le Mer,” he called as he tossed the last of his donut over Frenchy’s head. “Bon appetite!”
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