Here, April is a month-long tease leading up to spring. Backyards and ball diamonds are barely functional and most city streets still wear the sand and salt scars of the annual war with winter. The daylight stays longer, grows stronger, but athletes and intellectuals, alike, struggle to reclaim their edge.

Wausau has found a way to make the ides of April more than a day to curse the tax man. Mid-month means it’s Spring Clean-Up/Pick Up time in the city. The Large Item Pick-Up Schedule gets posted and boulevards burst forth with a bounty of bodacious booty.

Overnight, neighborhoods produce enough cast off plywood and storm windows to rough-out a shoddy second city. Don’t worry about furnishings. A sidewalk-survey reveals enough sectionals to make an NCAA bracketeer’s palms sweat.

As glorious and varied as the curb clutter may be, it has nothing on the manner in which it is prospected. Sleek, late-model muscle-trucks prowl alongside soccer-mom’s vans and secondhand SUV’s. Trailers, many moons retired from road-safe operation, are coaxed back to life and hitched-up like dreams to a star.

It’s all for the soul purpose of bringing home the gold. Everybody knows somebody who found a Picasso in a pickle bucket. Visions of Antique Road Show hosts fawning at ones feet just feed the frenzy.

I’ve seen porcelain sinks magically migrate ten blocks, seemingly of their own accord. Sure it looks good in the 400 block, but then the push mower at 1412 looks better. And a trailer can only take so much. Such is the fickleness of a junk-picking man. Ethically, something should probably only be un-picked at its place of origin, or added to one’s home pile for re-picking. Alas, but these are frontier days and frontier ways often take over the civilized mind.

Sunrise bird-calls are drowned out by the sound of engines idling at the curb. If they’re not looking, their loading, if not loading, then they’re leaving, headed for the next pile down the street or around the corner. This pile is played out, but just over that hill is another mother-load of wonder. But you better hurry because that which is unclaimed by week’s end is remanded to the county’s landfill.

So what becomes of these new-found treasures? Sure, there are a few private showings, maybe a photo op or two, but then like missing Monet’s or vanished van Gogh’s, stuff mostly goes into someone else’s backyard, basement shop, or storage shed. Hidden away until next April, when it’s hauled out, under dark of night (or threat of divorce), to be placed back on the bountiful boulevard from whence it came.

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