Tomorrow I’m rummaging through closets and garage for a good cause — a youth group fundraiser. I can’t believe how eager I am to get at it. It must be the fall cleaning urge kicking in.

I know there is a c.1960s settee in mint condition. (Old technology, my chid insists. Not worth $5 bucks, his wife chimes in. I disagree! We shall see …) I also have 1980s x-c skis, 1990s teacher-edition history books, and c. 2000s prom dresses to off-load. Golly! Treasures, to be sure! ;=) And who knows what else we’ll find among the odds-n-ends the chids left behind?

The thing is, once upon a time, I all but lived to scour rummage sales, garage sales, or the odd flea market or auction, looking for a bargain. It was weekly entertainment, of a sort: I’d load the chids in the red Astro van for the Saturday morning swoop.

My mother-in-law was the Queen of Bargain Hunting. Garage sale-ing became a veritable family social activity. We could always count on the matriarch to identify high quality sales. We’d arrive bright and early. (There was no point, otherwise.) If it looked good, we’d stop. (And if not, sail on by. Next on the list?) She’d negotiate. She never purchased except for a great deal and crowing rights.  Our Betty-Boo all but invented the flip! Initially, however, it was all about the thrill of a great find, good quality at a bargain price.

But God help you if she was on hand to scrutinize a purchase that didn’t meet her exacting standards. “You don’t need that! What do you want that for?” Then quite likely, we’d leave empty-handed. “Come on! Let’s get out of here!”

Truly, I can’t count the dollars saved as a result. The memories are even so much more valuable! To this day, I drive by random places and recall a sale there, once upon a time. In my mind I can still see the small lady with gray hair rummaging through.

These days, however, it’s rare that I’ll stop; too busy and also, no doubt, too comfortable. Yet what a pleasant feeling to off-load good quality stuff this weekend, knowing that someone else will pick it up for a bargain and be happy about it next weekend. It’s sustainable living on a sort of good will cycle, I guess. What goes ’round, comes ’round? I’m happy to give it a whirl!

You never know what you’ll discover in a rummage. It might be junk. It might be treasure. And it might be a great way to spend quality time with good people. I’m all in.

~René Morley

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