Saturday, January 29, 2011

I love the smell of wheelie bins in the morning

Summer has been pretty mild in Melbourne this year. Days that would disappoint a kid are appreciated by me in my dotage – 24C to wear t-shirts and thongs but not be restricted by the heat or risk a wet back and knickers driving around in a car whose air conditioner has recently bit the dust.

This weekend is different – 35C today and 40C tomorrow and Love Chunks reckons that February might be the month of fried lawns and frazzled school children. On days like that the only acceptable thing to do for those of us without swimming pools is to stay inside with the blinds down and do nothing more energetic than twist an ice-cube tray and catch up on the unread weekend supplements.

Milly and I have been doing our walks early in the morning before the sun bursts out malevolently from behind the Mt Alexander Road mechanics' and starts burning our already-struggling grass.

At 7am, the streets are quiet save for the big-night-outers still struggling home in broken stilettos and ripped jeans or other committed power-walkers and fat fifty-something delivery drivers in white vans. There's no fresh scent of honeysuckle or ripe plums in the air. In Flemington it’s the yeasty smell of beer vomit, chicken bones and half-eaten Krazy Kebabs.

We’re used to stepping around those kinds of splats on the footpath: what assails us mostly as we walk is the malodorous stench of wheelie bins. In a tightly-packed suburb studded with blocks of flats, the hulking Brunswick green odour-emitters take up half the footpath with barely a gap in between.

These have been particularly unpleasant when summer socialising, seafood on special and lingering warm weather are combined. The offensive cocktail of week-old prawn heads, rancid ham hocks, cherry pips, sticky meat trays, use-by dips and cockroach crap seep up and out of their innocent flip top lids and seem hellishly devised to coincide with each intake of my breath.

Perhaps it is wrong to write 'us' because to Milly the pong is on a par with Chanel No. 5. In her tiny furry brain she is perhaps rueing the fact that, at 40cm high, she's physically unable to flip herself in and have a good roll around the peelings, oil drips and the unfortunate bodies of flung-out pet guinea pigs who did not cope so well with the Australia Day fireworks.

Inevitably she stops in her tracks, does a self-conscious squat that ends in three back-leg kicks at least two metres away from her ‘product’ in a half-hearted attempt to bury it. I'm prepared for this and hold my breath at the same time as swooping down with the black plastic 'doo doo' bag. Pulled inside out and tightly knotted, the nugget doesn't touch my skin but feels warm in my hand. I keep walking, looking for the next bin on the footpath.

Well coat a turd in coconut and force feed it to Andrew Bolt - what a stink! Lifting up a wheelie bin lid is like staring into the olfactory gates of hell complete with wriggling maggots on a mission. Staggering back, I bend down to ruffle Milly’s velvety orange ears. She chooses that moment to yawn and I'm again assailed by a slightly less repulsive smell: canine morning breath. How fresh meat and a bone can translate to a gaseous puff of Pal, puke and parmesan remains a mystery.

Half way through our walk, we stop to cut through Debney park oval. Milly's let off her leash and chases the seagulls gathered on the cricket pitch in her joy at being temporarily free in public. Bugger it - she backs out another nugget and the doo-doo dispenser is empty. A few fun minutes are spent finding a strip of bark big enough to scoop and carry off the evidence and hide it somewhere that feet are less likely to tread.

Whilst I'm busy living the dream of dog ownership, she has found something worth stopping for - a galah. Dead at least a fortnight, it smells like, even from my nasal perspective a hundred metres away. "No Milly - don't roll in---"

Too late. She's rubbing her backbone into those fetid feathery remains like Marilyn Monroe on a mink. "MILLY - COME HERE!" She eventually does, with a tongue-lolling, wide-faced grin of bliss. A cloud of sticky summer flies come along for the ride, mesmerised by the black streaks on her coat.

Whew. When we get home, I remove Milly's collar and fill up the watering can by the back of the water tank. The newly-nude dog immediately senses danger and scoots for cover by Love Chunks’ canoe at the side of the house.

After a weak tussle in the scorching sun she accepts defeat and allows me to wet her, shampoo all the stench away and give a thorough rinse before releasing her again. The worst damage she can do is roll on the ground and cover herself in dead grass clippings and endure my laughter as I call her a soggy lamington with a tongue.

All this effort hasn't eradicated the sweet smell of Exelpet but it's all she's got. She gives me a resentful look and settles down on her trampoline bed by the back door. She knows: tomorrow there'll be another walk and she'll find another dead bird; wheelie bins providing a hint as to the scent she’ll again anoint herself with……


Jayne said...

Isn't Milly wonderful, finding all those delicious smells to share with you?!
I know you really can't wait to go walking to find that next deceased bird for that odour to be stamped on your olfactory nerves for days..and days...and daze..

Elisabeth said...

This one certainly reached my olfactory system. I'm blocking my nose for relief. The smell of those wheelie bins is excelled by only the occasional drenching in this solution we keep in the garage away from little people who might drink it. Poison, and acid, I can't remember the name but it smells like public urinals.

Milly is a treat in this trip through the malodorous. Thanks, Kath.

Hannah said...

*shudder* I feel licensed to commiserate (at least in part) after my dry-wretching experience of discovering weevils in my chocolate and having to throw out 750g (oh yes, I started weighing when I realised how much was going in the bin. It's the OCD in me). At least I didn't have to deal with the smell or too much clean-up, though!

Andrew said...

I should make a general comment, but instead will pick one line. Why do dogs make a half hearted attempt at covering their 'product'? Cats do it properly. Why have dogs lost that skill?

Kath Lockett said...

Er, yes Jayne. Milly is still, after nearly seven years, quite shocked when I don't want to pat her coat or let her inside after rolling in cat s**t or dead pelican.

Elisabeth the only consolation is that clean Milly smells gorgeous - lavender and fruit and is super soft. She, of course, hates it.

750 grams of chocolate in the BIN, Hannah? If Milly rolled in that I might be in quite such a rush to bath her but ants could be a problem.

I have no idea why, Andrew. However, I do remember that our lovely little sandpit that Dad made us was swiftly abandoned after we got our cat and found a few dusty nuggets as we dug!

Red Nomad OZ said...

Gosh! You make it sound so appealing!!

River said...

@Hannah; seal that weevilly chocolate tightly in plastic then package it and return it to the manufacturer. They need to know there's a problem. They'll be thankful enough to send you some free stuff as compensation.

Dog breath is one reason I don't have a dog, Kath.
If only more people kept their smellies in an old clearly marked icecream container in the freezer and didn't put that in the wheelie bin until collection morning. The bins would be much sweeter, like mine. Of course not everybody has enough freezer space I suppose.

Baino said...

I share your pain. I forgot to put the red bin out on Wednesday since it was Australia day and I was too busy getting pissed and swimming in a pool of foam. . . man it stinks so bad I've wheeled it up the back out of pong reach. Even poured kero on the top to try to diffuse the odour.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day Kath,

I am envious of the fact that it is hot Down Under, when I have just woken up to Manchester, basking in a temperature of minus 4 degrees. I look out of the window and see my car covered in a layer of ice, knowing I;ve got to spend ten minutes scrapping the thing.

Yet I am comforted by the fact that as I step out of my house, I nose will not be assualted by rancid stenches from the wheelie bins that are congregating close by (huddling to keep warm no doubt).

It is a bittersweet feeling.

Mind you - 40 degrees??????? I think I would melt!!!

Nice post.




nuttynoton said...

your description as usual is brilliant, like PM we have minus 3 degrees in frosty North Lincolnshire and it rarely gets hot enough for the bin to smell. Our general waste is only collected every 2 weeks so lets hope it stays that way!!
give milly a pat from us

Kath Lockett said...

Red, you know what? It still *is* appealing. Milly makes it all worth it.

River we barely have a freezer - it lurks at the bottom of our fridge and struggles to hold a loaf of bread, fish and mince. Dog breath ain't pretty but, I'll say it again - Milly is worth it.

Baino, multiply your bin by 200 in an innercity suburb and that equates to my pain :)

Thanks PlasMan - I wouldn't mind swapping a day of your snow for our heat. My chocolate wouldn't melt for a start.

Nutty - every two weeks? I'd DIE if that happened here! I'll go and pat the dog for you.

JahTeh said...

Andrew, cats do not bury everything nicely, as the cat manages to power up the back legs enough to race a Ferrari and covers the laundry floor in kittylitter. I've learnt to wear thongs out there as that crystal stuff is like glass.

Kath, when I had dogs, I had a whole market garden to walk them in and they would head straight to the slightest puddle of mud ignoring acres of green to roll in.

WV is slumb, sounds like the back lanes of Flemington.

Deep Kick Girl said...

Wish I hadn't read that with a queasy tummy thing going on. I've spent half the day on the loo (sorry too much info!) and your bad smell descriptions were just a bit too graphic and realistic.

JK said...

Golly - we nearly adopted two dogs this weekend and deferred the decision in the end. I had forgotten about the smell factor...

Kath Lockett said...

Jah Teh, 'slumb' describes things rather nicely.

DKG - I'm so sorry - perhaps this blog should include an advisory sticker for the posts that might make eating whilst reading a bit of a challenge?

JK - don't let this blog put you off getting a dog. Milly's been the find of our lives for only eighty bucks; bad breath and all.

LJP said...

"Well coat a turd in coconut and force feed it to Andrew Bolt" - I think that can be arranged.

Vanessa said...

What is it with dogs wanting to roll in dead animals. Our Jacko loved it when we had our country holiday house and he had cow pats to roll in, the wetter, the better.

R.H. said...

For the same reason toffs sniff at plonk as if they're going to pee in it Vanessa. They adore the smell.

You might have trouble doing that with Andrew LJP, these blokes are often a surprise.

Marie said...

I love your Milly running. Could I please use her in a project for which I will give you and Milly full credit and send you a copy in a few months time. Marie

Kath said...

Sure Marie - would love to see the project when you complete it!

grac miller said...

Thank you for your kind comment. I've been recommending the bins to my gardening friends.

wheelie bins melbourne