I have been away from this blog for some time. Too long it seems. But spring is here, at least on the calendar, and in the spirit of new beginnings, I am taking up my virtual pen to start fresh.
Today is Earth Day, and although I had not planned on marking it in any particular way, Mother Earth had her own plans for me, evidently.
Around 11 o’clock this morning I set out for a walk with Luna (my 6-year-old Karelian Bear Dog). Now usually I only bring one recycled plastic shopping bag (of the Tops or Shaw’s variety) with me, but today for some inexplicable reason there were two in my winter coat pocket (it was windy, what can I tell you). As Luna led me down South Main Street toward the center of Northfield Village, I noticed a flattened Pabst Blue Ribbon can in the gutter. Remembering I had two bags in my pocket (one for Luna’s poop and one to spare), I pulled it out and put the container in it. Feeling virtuous, I walked a few steps further and saw a styrofoam cup, also flattened. I scooped that up too. Next there was a a Laffy Taffy wrapper (blue-raspberry flavor), crumpled tin foil, and a styrofoam tray that once held a 3/4 lb. USDA choice beef top loin NY strip steak for $10.49, on sale at Shaw’s for a mere $6.37. Soon there was no stopping me. I found an empty 50 ml bottle of Smirnoff vodka, a grape Powerade label, and a Fireball cinnamon whisky nip bottle, also empty. In no time I had amassed quite a collection, and I had only walked a half a block.
It is amazing what appears on the sides of the road this time of year–the cumulative detritus of a long, cold winter–once hidden by melting snow and now coated with silt left behind by sanding trucks. It tells a story of what people were eating and drinking as they walked or drove to and from the village of Northfield. The sun was shining and I was kind of enjoying my little do-good adventure, and Luna was patient with me as I stopped every few feet to pick up each new bit of litter.
I continued my walk into town, crossed at the crosswalk, did a circle around Depot Square–where I found a Dunkin Donuts Drive-Thru bag with the receipt still attached, and a Depot Square Pizza receipt for a large, cheese pizza and a soda (which cost $16.30 including tax)–before heading back up South Main Street by the United Church.
As I made the long, gradual climb toward home, I gathered up wrapper after wrapper: one had held a Slim Jim, another a Jack link teriyaki beef stick, another a Werther’s original candy, and another a single serving of Duck Sauce. But not everything I found was food-related. I also came upon a broken rubber birthday balloon (lavender colored), a disposable hairnet, a drier sheet, a plastic label bearing safety instructions for a flexible light made in China (evidently cut off from its electric power cord), a piece of cardboard from which once hung a brand new 45″ Totes umbrella (for $5.00 no less), a package that once held 3 premium Dutch Masters cigarillos, and two empty packs of Marlboros–one bold flavor, one smooth original. There was also a 6-in. strip of masking tape, wet wipes (no longer wet), and three UPOs (unidentified plastic objects).
Before I reached home, Luna did her “doody,” so I took out my other plastic bag and scooped that up. I also picked up another plastic bag of containing some other dog’s poop that the owner had tied neatly in a knot and left at the base of a fire hydrant, presumably to pick up at some later time. In all, I picked up 67 individual pieces of trash. I confess I left behind some pieces of cardboard too big to fit in the burgeoning bag, or things that looked too disgusting to touch, including countless cigarette butts.
Incidentally, I just happened to look at the word count of this piece as I paused at the end of the last paragraph; by pure chance that number was 666. Maybe that doesn’t mean anything, but I believe there are no accidents in this life, or any other life for that matter. Everything happens for a reason, and the reason I had two bags in my coat pocket today was so that I could pick up trash and write about it in this blog, and maybe inspire others to do the same. We all share the same planet, the same Mother Earth. It is our one and only home, for now and for as long as human life exists. Let’s all pay her the respect she deserves.
Happy Earth-Day to you.