Commentary: Dread of garbage duty grows when hot weather and toddlers meet up

We keep the two heavy duty garbage cans in the garage.

Both have thick plastic hides that can stand up to the force of our right-legged size-13 yard waste compactor, me.

The household can is a different matter.

It’s strictly lightweight.

Thin-skinned with wheels and an axel stolen from a child’s discount store clearance riding toy, it usually cools its heels in the basement at this time of year, snuggled up to a furnace on seasonal air conditioning duty.

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But then came last week and the foreshadowing of a more challenging future for the can, our household and I suspect yours.

The events involved three key players.

Player one was the summer version of the polar vortex, the heat dome - and its triple-digit “feels like” temperatures.

Players two and three are both children.

As the amount of additional trash they produced exceeded the normal container space on our back porch, my size 13s were sent to the basement to get the thin-skinned can.

And as the week progressed on the uncooled back porch, it also became apparent that the younger of the two children would have the more significant impact on household air quality. It was he who was serving up a steady supply of what restaurateurs might call Diaper of Yogurt-fed Free-range Toddler.

Which led to a revelation.

Certainly, there are more pressing and important issues involved in global warming.

But it’s hard to imagine one that brings the consequences of climate destabilization home like a thin plastic can that becomes a slow-cooker for all things noxious.

If I had read Dante’s Inferno, I might be able to present a line inspired by one of the circles of hell to describe it.

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As it is, my deepest philosophical readings involved the body of work of Theodor Seuss Geisel. So, I can only refer to “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch,” verse four, which calls him a “nasty-wasty skunk” whose heart is full of unwashed socks and “soul is full of gunk.”

Post-graduate students of the life work of Dr. Seuss will recognize this as the verse that concludes with one of the good doctor’s most erudite expressions, sung in the television production by Thurl Ravenscroft, also the voice of Frosted Flakes spokes-predator Tony the Tiger:

“The three best words that best describe you, are as follows, and I quote: Stink! Stank! Stunk!”

It was three days before our appointed garbage day when our household’s chief operating officer issued a Grinch Stink Advisory with strict instructions not to take the lid off the can indoors. I fully understood that the outdoor opening of the can would henceforth be restricted to persons with shoes size 13 and above.

But when I did the final tie-off of the trash bag on Sunday night, I did not sulk.

I felt sorry for the always busy yet always courteous guy who would show up the next day, as he does every Monday, to pick up our leavings.

And I wanted to apologize for what we’d cooked up for him this week.

Not only for the stench but the amount of carbon dioxide and methane I was leaving at the curb - gasses generated not only by the Diaper of Free-range Toddler, but from all the decomposing food and other leavings we push out the back doors of our houses every week.

And that was the revelation, I guess.

That I may be the not-so-proud owner of a greenhouse gases slow cooker that I place on the curb lawn each week.

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