Yarn Registry Section
Well, Yellow Springs, it’s been a really, really great two years, but I’m headed out for the unforgiving terrain of westernmost Texas. I didn’t ever expect I’d end up here, but I’m very glad I did.
March 1 marked the 131st anniversary of an enormous explosion just south of town in Goes Station. The explosion occurred with such force, heat and clamor that everyone nearby probably thought the very gates of Hell opened up in their backyard.
The preponderance of ruins and tangled underbrush creates a sense of the forlorn in the way that only crumbled human structures can. There are remains of an amphitheater, some walkways and bits of a dam, all of which speak for something that once was but now is not.
“I meet people from all over the world. They tell you these amazing stories of how they got there and what it means to them, like the guest who got on a plane for the first time in their life because seeing the Grand Canyon was worth the risk of flying.”
“As a ranger, you can’t plan your day 100 percent – you’ll leave fifteen minutes early to do a program that’s only five minutes away, but that’s not enough time because there’s an elk in the way and it’s stomping its hoof and raising its head like it is going to charge you.”
These changes will happen at evolution’s grindingly slow pace, but by the time these creatures have gotten used to life in vast ecosystems of garbage, a future researcher will marvel at how readily and how ingeniously these creatures have adapted — and continue to adapt — to their befouled environs.
This week’s entry discusses the myriad mammals that are able to live in a landfill, from small rodents to upper-echelon predators to human beings. But this is a Pyrrhic victory, as they are subject to the same hazards that afflict any creature searching its way through a dump.
Many bird species that call the Rumpke grasslands home: birdsong mixes with the rattle and hum of machinery to create a cyborg symphony that represents the in/organic mix that is the landfill itself.
Insects are important to the decomposition of garbage because they eat a lot of trash and tunnel their way through it, which mixes and aerates it. Some insects find their way to the trash, while some are inadvertently brought to it. In interesting case of filth in reverse, cockroaches are often found in landfills, as they hitch a ride in the belongings humans have discarded.
The smallest layer of life in a landfill — a “robust set” of microscopic bacteria, fungus, yeast, and protozoa — consumes and digests organic materials in garbage, breaking it down like an enormous compost pile and producing huge amounts of methane gas as a byproduct of their activities.