yesterday my dad needed to make a trip to the local landfill, so we loaded up the truck, and drove just outside of town, hanging a right onto a single dirt road. we passed a few trailer houses, and soon a tall gate appeared, with bits and pieces of loose trash pressed against the wire. Spring days in rural Texas mean the temperature is above 80 degrees but a strong wind comes from the South, blowing dust and hot air until it meets the syrup smell of a sorghum processing plant nearby. Dad drives with the windows down. I ask him about the small lake we pass. It’s sewage water, he says.
The landfill is gated, with a guard entrance, and we pull onto the red earth. Soil here is clay, or red-dirt, a result of too much iron oxide. I have always loved the color of the earth here, but my shoes and clothes have a rust tint to them. We unload the trash from the truck, and I study each of the discarded items scattered alongside the waste.
The very next day, the wind picked up, moving around 60 mph in some parts of the Texas Panhandle. I drove the truck to pick up a few groceries about 20 miles away, and the entire wide open sky was red from the dust. Trash blew everywhere. I thought about a documentary I watched in 2011 or 2012 called Waste Land about Brazilian artist Vic Muniz, who makes portraits of catadores (waste pickers) out of the trash collected from Jardin Gamacho, a garbage dump outside Rio de Janeiro. The catadores look for recycled material in the trash, finding valuable goods in what people have thrown away. Looking at this pile also reminded me of the documentary Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, which traverses the world to show the impact of humanity. There is an asterisk attached to it, though. Because this era began with colonialism. Here is an essay that considers the relationship of the Anthropocene to colonialism. Below is a photo of the landfill.