Anne Notations

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Trash talk

Daisy and I adore our morning walks along the beach. We reach the end of our dead-end road, cross the bike path, and head down to the water. She's not a great swimmer, but she loves to get her paws wet and hop around as the waves roll in. I lift my face to the breeze and watch a kayaker paddling out of the cove. It's all perfectly beautiful - except for the new crop of beach litter.

Vodka bottles. Beer bottles. Mike's Hard Lemonade bottles. Plastic bags. Styrofoam cups. Food containers. Torn T-shirts. Cans. Clumps of fishing line. An entire Styrofoam cooler broken into big chunks that are disintegrating into beads of plastic on the smooth sand. And - shame! - even some large piles of dog poop.

After Daisy and I are done with our walk, I don my leather gardening gloves and head back out with a jumbo black plastic trash bag. I retrace our route and give myself lower back spasms as I pick up all this junk - yes, even someone else's dog's poop. It's a long stretch of sand from the tip of our point heading north partway up Brushneck Cove. Early-bird arrivals on their beach towels stare as I pass with my clanking load of shards, paper, and metal.

I clean the parking lot at the end of Strand and Suburban avenues, noticing the heaps of cigarette packs, napkins, and food containers where people in parked cars have opened their doors and dumped trash on the gravel. A pair of walkers thank me and commiserate about the thoughtlessness of those who enjoy this place and leave it dirty and dangerous. Often I see neighbors out with their own gloves and bags. It has been a good way to meet people.

The visitors who leave trash behind on the beach are mostly late-night drinkers. When you're drunk, you don't care about litter; you laugh and smash glass bottles for the hell of it. You stagger away and go on to the next party. Your forgotten mess becomes someone else's mess.

As I bend to gather other people's trash, I feel a kinship with the janitors at Brown who dispose of the stomach-turning refuse left by student revelers. The arrogance of litter angers me. Yet I also feel guilty for once having been among the young and heedless who tossed empty bottles from a car during any one of a dozen crazy nights. Woo-hooo! We were cool.

Now I've been given a chance to atone. It feels good, aching back and all.


  • Good for you, and fie on those who litter a beach!

    By Blogger bozoette, at Mon Aug 06, 01:47:00 PM EDT  

  • Nice and nicely written. This strikes me as metaphorica: As hard as we work on ourselves there''s always going to be other people's garbage that they just don't tend to. If we really don't want it ruining things for us we sometimes have to painfully bend to clean up the garbage of others, crazy and unfair as that is.

    By Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann, at Mon Aug 06, 02:14:00 PM EDT  

  • I think you are so cool for cleaning up like that and yes I considered how my back would ache too. :)

    By Blogger Liz, at Thu Aug 09, 12:06:00 AM EDT  

  • With all due respect rabbi neil fleischmann, my feeling is I can never clean up other people's garbage (metaphorically speaking). Besides what I see as garbage someone else is A-OK with. I can only clean up my side of the street and make a conscience choice to distance myself from others garbage if it is spilling onto my area. I respect Anne's sense of community service and the lesson's she is teaching her little one.

    By Blogger Liz, at Thu Aug 09, 12:12:00 AM EDT  

  • You are awesome to pick up all that trash. Just wish you wouldn't have had to do that. Hope your back is no longer aching!

    By Blogger Melissa, at Thu Aug 09, 12:43:00 PM EDT  

  • Well done. Sometimes it takes "age" to make us realize that we shouldn't take things for granted.

    By Blogger Jack's Shack, at Tue Aug 14, 11:50:00 AM EDT  

  • God, you are such a good person.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Aug 17, 09:22:00 PM EDT  

  • Dear Anonymous (above):

    Oh, puh-leeeeez!

    By Blogger AnneD, at Sun Aug 19, 12:15:00 PM EDT  

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