Magically Real || It’s all happening at the Coupeville Dump

Posted in Blogs, Community, Humor, Literary

September 21, 2016

I mean the recycling center. Well, it’s the recycling center AT the dump.

Read on.

Friends: now that I live on an island, I find myself thinking about where things come from. Like electricity. And where things go. Like our garbage.

The visit to the dump is my husband Larry’s job. Mind you, he doesn’t complain about it; he is a wonderful man. But he’s also a sophisticated intellectual who blogs about religion and who is working on a memoir. This kind of work takes him away from his writing. Which would account for the fact that he does a lot of sighing when this job comes around.


He makes a great deal of organizing sounds, which involve opening and closing the back door, opening and closing cabinets, more sighing, then opening of the car trunk. These are accompanied by the melancholy sounds of plastic bags rustling and then glass clanking. The back door slams shut in what can only be called an existential manner, and the car backs out of the driveway. It proceeds slowly, with gravitas, towards the highway.

“This is a time-consuming, somewhat intricate operation, you know,” my husband informed me yesterday as he prepared to leave.

“Hmm,” I thought. “I’d better come along and supervise.”


Going to the Coupeville dump is a complex adventure, because the recycling area isn’t just the blue can that we were used to in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles. No sir. It’s a huge space, the size of a couple of tennis courts (not that I play tennis—I’m a poet, for Pete’s sake!).

When you bring your recycling items, you must sort them into subcategories and place them in the appropriate receptacle/bins/stacks.


There are a lot of them. Green glass goes one place. Aluminum goes someplace else. Cans go someplace else. Cardboard, as opposed to paper, goes someplace else. The good news: brown paper shopping bags go with cardboard! There are even spots for batteries and printer cartridges.

“Why are there so many subcategories?” I asked the person with the orange vest who was in charge for the day. I was told that as many as five different trucks come on different schedules to haul away ONE specific type of recyclable. These then go off-island back to the Seattle area.


Did I mention that there is also a thrift shop at the dump? You can buy a bicycle! A man in a very fancy sports car stopped by and did just that while I was there supervising.

You can also donate clothing.

There’s a kind of beauty to the recycling area at the Coupeville Dump. Things are not being wasted; they are being exchanged. There’s something cool about actually seeing all the stuff we use, get sorted and readied to be reused.


The person in the orange vest smiled and waved as we left.

I think I will go to the dump with my husband next time.

I might even offer to help!

Stephanie Barbé Hammer is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry. She is the author of a poetry chapbook “Sex with Buildings” (dancing girl press 2012), a full-length poetry collection “How Formal?” (Spout Hill Press, 2014), and a comic magical realist novel “The Puppet Turners of Narrow Interior” (Urban Farmhouse Press, 2015). You can follow her on twitter (stephabulist) or read her blog “Magically Real” as she tries to read “100 Years of Solitude” in less than 100 years at


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  1. Great article! I love our recycling centers (I mainly go to Freeland), which I find to be a bounty of inspiration for art, poetry, music and literature. The things I have seen and experienced are amazing. I, personally, never miss the chance to go there. I’ll be visiting the Coupeville site next, thanks to you. I just love your writing – thank you, Windwalker

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