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We have much to be thankful for. My life is bedecked with gifts in this rich country in 2012. This Spring in melting America can’t come early enough. What are we waiting for? The Arab Spring is sprung and carried on by Egyptians and Syrians to this day. I can’t say we live in a democracy, but I am not afraid to walk in the streets. I saw 5 daffodils that had opened their yellow fingers. We have food, fast food and slow food, bakeries and ovens. We have Roseta
Stone and WeeAvatars and glass windows. We have waterslides, frisbees and libraries. Weeeee.
With all the gloomy predictions of climate change, the rise in FEMA natural disasters, we are a people holding our breath, waiting for the sky to fall. And if the sky doesn’t fall on us, we are petrified the oceans will rise to engulf us. We have the same fear as Chicken Little. Some of my friends are depressed when they see sunny balmy days in January. What! They want cloudy and bitter weather because it’s typical for New England. I personally think people take the climate change to a serious level if you are disgusted by good weather. Let your body take delight, don’t be a fusty, vainglorious egghead. Of course we have to work hard to stop carbon emissions and oil dependency. My head is scared; but I still enjoy completely a sunny warm February day. Be in love with nature “with no forethought of grief.” **
Instead of hyperventilating about winter weather, Susan and I have gone out weekly at 7 am to pick up trash around Weeks Bridge. Many Charles River elves polish the River parkway. Within a stretch of 150 yards we’ve gather amazing debris. Even 10 years ago I would have said, “!Que va!! The tramps and Harvard drunken bums, and the pooping geese, and the careless tourists are screwing up my view. It’s not my problem. I should complain in a letter to the local paper. Sh*”%*!”
Now, without cluttering my mind with blame, I clean the deluge. It’s our collective baggage. It’s a bit like Hurricane Katrina with a time lapse. Filling trashcans are as good as changing into a clean diapers: (cloth diaper of course).
What do we pick up? Hubcaps, baseballs, buckles, bottles, shot glasses, Mylar bags, parking tix. Lots and lots of plastic bottles, Gatorade, Dasani, Vitamin water or bug juice all in crackling wrapping. (More trash listed near end.) One old juice bottle stuck out of the edge buried under 4 inches of turf. Once I picked up a leathery object the size of a lime. It looked like a busted pingpong ball powdered with dirt. Well, it was a broken through goose egg. How wonderful to find that detritus. Cheery-o.
**The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. —Wendell Berry
Imagine all the people or pets that had fun with this debris before I bagged it:
Toy sand shovels
Cigar wrappings (silver rose too)
Baby pacifiers (color indescribable)
Frisbees (chewed on)
Dorito chip silver bags
Foam Footballs (with a chunk missing)
Imagine the folks who due to bad timing or nefarious behavior left this by the river for my gloved fingers to grab:
Syringe (needle cap in place)
Tarp with a few grommets
Once bobbing outside the University dorms I saw a huge pumpkin. Once I picked up a raccoon skull. That may be trash but they were both weirdly beautiful. One creamy morning the sky was streaked in pink radiance, as the sun pierced the east. I was digging out of the sand blue red and green plastic bottle caps. We looked up to see a parade of geese line up and come towards us as if we were going to feed them breakfast. We laughed loud enough to startle them. They stopped their liquid tracks, perhaps very affronted. (oops. A professor warned me not to anthropomorphize human feelings onto nature. Last June we spooked an orphan gosling stranded by the shoreline, hiding in the shrubs.
The booby prizes go to a liter bottles half full, fishing lines and grimy cigarette butts. Did I mention how often we find plastic 12 ounce bottles? You’d be drunk if you saw all the bottles I finish off in an hour.
Each week we pick up 4 bags of trash and toss them besides the solar composting bin by the bridge. Sometimes we whisper and dodge people sleeping outside under blankets. With winter weather Susan and I miss a few weeks, then our nimble fingers will send letters to our representatives about clean water and recycling and saving wild habitat. Rest assured that every duckling and snail is thanking any River Elves. But sorry trees, I sometimes send paper letters with ink on them.
To advocate if under 7 year old: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss