Haines Herring is a semi-regular local news parody column.
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By Lucy Nieboer

As the equinox approaches, community members are eagerly preparing for spring. For some this means starting seedlings for greenhouse gardens. Others are finalizing plans for summer building projects. For a select few, spring means one thing – Free Piles.

As travelers make room for newly-acquired souvenirs, and homesteaders discard clutter for more efficient months ahead, the inevitability of a bountiful Free Pile Season is as certain as the greening of the leaves on the trees.

Free sign near the Haines Harbor. (Lex Treinen/Chilkat Valley News)

Marjorie Miser, Free Pile aficionado, is preparing for her busiest time of year.

“I rest to conserve my energy in the wintertime because by the time folks start their spring cleaning, it’s non-stop,” she said.

She spoke with CVN last week in her home (smartly furnished from the Free Piles of Haines).

“Now check this out,” she said, holding up an alarm clock in the shape of a mallard, “I never in a million years would have chosen this thing in the store, but I found it in a free pile on FAA Road, and something about that made it all the more special. It even quacks on the hour.”

Miser, a longtime Haines resident, leads a small group of equally passionate freegans. They call themselves the Chilkat Valley Scavenger Club. Meeting weekly in a rented warehouse storage space, they map Free Pile locations, exchange information on acquired goods, swap unwanted finds, and brainstorm ideas on best use of less common items. Last year the group hosted a seminar where they learned to create doormats out of jettisoned electrical cords and tangled gillnets.

This summer, the Scavenger Club plans to host several additional workshops in collaboration with the Haines Recycling Center and the library’s Monday mending circle, such as: This was Free – Now What? – Making Space for Life’s Little Treasures, Automotive Parts as Decor, and Gratis Belle – The Art of the Free Pile.

“We created this group to remind folks that the best things in life are free,” said Miser, “And “And to be honest we were running out of space for all our stuff.”