If you woke up the other morning and noticed that the Christmas tree you put in the alley was gone and it hadn’t been trash day yet, not to worry. Even if noticed, you probably didn’t really give it much thought. You wanted it gone. Just like when we place unwanted items in the alley or on the curb for treasure hunters to swoop in and take to re-purpose or bring to the swap meet, our trash is someone else’s treasure.
Which is exactly what your discarded Christmas tree may have become to fellow Islanders, both young and old. On Sunday, January 7, I attended a bonfire at North Beach. A gathering of friends and families. The purpose? Burn Christmas trees and make s’mores.
I overheard more than one guest ask as they arrived, “Where did you get all the trees?” The host replied, “the alleys.” “You just drove up and down alleys and picked them up?” “Yes.” “Did anyone stop you?” “Nope.” Laughter ensued. While the kids played hide and seek on the sand in the dark (opposite the direction of the wind and embers), the guests discussed how quickly each tree burst into flames as it was put into the firepit. We also commented on the intensity of heat being put out from just one tree as we stood 15 feet away. The swiftness of each tree becoming ashes brought to mind the recent and devastating fires in our state. We were reminded of the brave men and women who put their lives on the line, some lost, fighting fires every day. We envisioned a forest, not a firepit, and it became so clear how quickly a spark takes out acres. I couldn’t help but be grateful that we were standing on the beach in the sand next to a contained firepit and not outside of one of our homes.
After the kids enjoyed their delicious, marshmallow-sticky, graham crackers and chocolate, and we were walking to our cars, up rolled another truck soon to be offloading more trees. I overheard the guys telling their friends they had collected them from the alleys. Another bonfire to be made. Another alley cleared of 2017 Christmas trees. Another group of people, having a good time and making memories.