英语学习杂志 2015-11-30 16:18





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By Robert Klose

丁玎 选 安妮 注

As I drive the byways of Maine, especially during these long, lovely summer months, I cannot help but notice the various castings-off that people place curbside, all appended with one seemingly irresistible word—FREE!

In this state noted for its ethic of sufficiency, it is a singular joy to get rid of stuff that one no longer needs. But it is also fascinating to observe the jetsam of other households. Here is a short list of what I have seen by the side of the road on a representative weekend:

Computer desk

Computer (with accompanying sign: IT WORKS!)

Perfectly good wheel and tire


Kitchen cupboards

Snowboard (with bindings)

Washing machine



So why do many people throw away serviceable, and often valuable, things? I mean, why don’t they just try to sell them? I think the answer is also tied in with the Maine ethic of keeping it simple: It’s easier to give something away than to go through the trouble of advertising and then fielding phone calls, followed by the inevitable dickering. But I also think there is the subtle joy of seeing an item retrieved by someone we presume can use it.

What strikes me is the speed with which discarded goods are scooped up. It is as if there exists a nomadic army dedicated to acquiring the reject of others, ready to swoop in on a moment’s notice.

Case in point: For years I had a chunk of rusted, twisted steel sitting next to my garage. I finally overcame my ennui about the thing and hauled it curbside. No sooner had I turned my back than a pickup appeared. The driver hopped out and, in a tone of disbelief suggesting I had discarded the Hope Diamond, asked, “You getting rid of this?” When I nodded, he hoisted it, yelled a brisk “Thanks!” over his shoulder, and roared off.

Maine, then, is truly the land of the free. That one word is the catalyst for enthusiastic community assistance in one’s housecleaning.

A couple of years back, in a fever of industry, I was able to empty my garage of a door, two bald tires, a torn tarp, a roll of chicken wire, a rake with a broken handle, a lobster crate, and half a sack of concrete. I placed them by the street, and the gleaners began to swarm.

One woman (who took the concrete) even glanced at my garage and asked, “Got anything else in there?”

These freedom fighters actually comprise a number of subcultures. There are the rovers I’ve spoken about, who pick things up on the fly. Then there are the dumpster divers who cruise the trash bins outside the dormitories at the nearby University of Maine at semester’s end. (One of our neighbors is a member of this tribe: She has presented my son with a working electric scooter, a pair of like-new Nike sneakers, and a set of fine drafting tools.) The third group is represented by the dump prospectors—those who scour the town dump for overlooked gems, some of which are difficult to overlook, such as the sailboat (with trailer!) someone had unloaded there.

My guilty little secret is that I sometimes stop for a share of the largess. There really isn’t anything I need, but that word “free” speaks to some deep impulse to acquire, and to compete, lest someone else beat me to the punch. In this manner I once muscled a picnic table into my truck.

When I arrived home, my son remarked, “But we already have a picnic table. Why did you get another one?”

My answer was immediate: “Because it was free!”

As I write this, I am glancing out the window at a Windsor chair my neighbor has put out. The sign says FREE, but the chair is missing one leg.

Hmm... I could either repair it or use the chair for firewood. Which shall it be? Too late! While I dither over a course of action, an old-timer has pulled up. The chair is his, and I feel a tiny sting of loss.


1. byway: 旁道,偏僻小路;Maine: 缅因州,美国东北角的一个州;casting-off: 被丢弃的东西;curbside: 靠近路缘的人行道部分,路边;append: 附加,增补;irresistible: 无法抗拒的,非常诱人的。

2. be noted for: 因……著名;ethic: 准则,观念;sufficiency: 充足,足够;singular: 突出的,异常的。

3. jetsam: 投弃货物。

4. representative: 典型的,具有代表性的。

5. accompanying: 附带的。

6. cupboard: 橱柜。

7. snowboard: 滑雪板;binding: (滑雪板上的)滑雪鞋固定装置。

8. skylight: (屋顶的)天窗。

9. 我想,这也与缅因州人一切从简的习惯相关:卖东西得先打个广告,然后处理来电,最后不可避免地还得跟人讨价还价,与这些麻烦事相比,赠予更为简单和单纯一些。field: 处理,应付(问题、电话等);inevitable: 必然发生的,不可避免的;dicker: 讨价还价。

10. subtle: 微妙的,细微的;retrieve: 取回,收回;presume: 假定,认为。

11. discarded: 被丢掉的,被弃置的;scoop up: 把……抢购一空。

12. 仿佛有一支游牧军专门收取别人扔掉的东西,随时准备好扑向路边旧货。nomadic: 游牧的,流动的;be dedicated to: 投身于,致力于;reject: 被弃者;swoop: 突然扑向,突然袭击。

13. a chunk of: 一大块;rusted: 生锈的;twisted: 歪斜的,扭曲的。

14. ennui: 倦怠,厌倦;haul: 拖,拉。

15. pickup: 小卡车。

16. hop out: 跳出;the Hope Diamond: “希望之星”蓝钻石,世界著名珍宝。

17. hoist: 抬起,扛起;yell: 叫喊;brisk: 轻快的,活泼的;roar: (车辆)轰鸣着疾驶。

18. catalyst: 催化剂,促进因素。

19. fever: 一时的狂热,亢奋;industry: 勤奋,勤劳;bald tire: 光面轮胎,花纹已磨光的轮胎;tarp: 防水布,油布;chicken wire: 铁丝网;rake: (长柄的)耙子;lobster: 龙虾;crate: 货箱;sack: 麻袋;concrete: 混凝土,水泥。

20. gleaner: 零散物搜集者;swarm: 云集,挤满。

21. comprise: 包括,由……构成;subculture: 亚文化群体。

22. rover: 流浪者,游荡者;on the fly: 在行驶过程中。

23. dumpster diver: 垃圾掏客;cruise: 开车缓慢巡行,兜风。

24. tribe: (兴趣相同的)一批人;electric scooter: 电动滑板车;sneaker: 胶底运动鞋;drafting: 制图,绘图。

25. dump prospector: 垃圾勘探者;scour: 四处搜索,细查;gem: 宝石,珍宝,此处指被一些人认为是垃圾,却被另一些人视为珍宝的东西;sailboat: 帆船;trailer: 拖车,此处指在陆地上用来拉运帆船的拖车;unload: 卸下(货物),此处指“丢弃”。

26. largess: 赠送之物,赏赐。

27. impulse: 冲动;lest: 唯恐,生怕;beat sb. to the punch: 先发制人,抢先做某事(得到某物)。

28. muscle: 使劲搬动。

29. Windsor chair: 温莎椅,18世纪流行于英美的一种细骨靠椅。

30. dither: 犹豫不决;old-timer: 老人,上了年纪的人;pull up: 停车。

31. sting: 刺痛,不快。

(来源:英语学习杂志 编辑:丹妮)

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