October 22, 2012
Ellen/Reid: Got back to basics, at least a little bit on homeowning side of things, this weekend; i.e. procuring another tank of propane for the grill, planting some purple-white-yellow cold-hardy pansies in the front window boxes to add a little color in the winter (makes me feel like I’m still gardening), and tidying up some paperwork although there is much, much more to go in order to make my office habitable. More time spent at home means less time spent on the golf course and given the putrid state of my game, that’s not altogether a bad thing.
The best part of the weekend is Saturday morning. While Felicia sleeps in, I rise-and-shine and brew up a fresh pot of French roast coffee and hit the streets about 6:45 with my go-cup. It’s mostly the lovely sound of quiet except for the chippering song birds and a few joggers and other walkers. Also with me is a plastic grocery store bag. This is where I need to come clean with you guys because there must be something about old age where we develop habits that perhaps others don’t want us to develop and you two might think your old man is just a plain nut. No one would blame you.
This goes back quite a while. My daily walk is around the block, about two and a half miles. For a long time I just got increasingly fed up with all the trash and junk that slobs had discarded along the route. I wanted my walk to be cleaner, not necessarily pristine, but at least presentable. One day I saw a can or a bottle or some other refuse and just stooped over to pick it up.
Bottom line, I just got tired of walking by other people’s trash. It’s something I could do something about.
I went another 20 yards and picked up something else. By the end of that walk, my hands were full of litter. It’s been that way ever since (I don’t take a bag when Felicia and I walk since I’d probably be a total embarrassment to her). So now, I combine my solo jaunts with bagging up what total Neanderthals toss out their car windows. The real enemy is plastic. Everything – paper, plastic, cans, etc. – all goes into the recycle bin.
But here’s what is really morbid. Some days I spread my haul out on the back driveway, photograph it and take an inventory of what I scooped up; how much plastic, how much paper, how much ‘other’ and the approximate weight (right now what has been picked up and removed from the environmental chain is probably pushing 1,800 lbs. of stuff). My hoped-for aim is a blog that would encourage people and kids to take up arms (and hands and bags) against this slobbery. I just can’t stand the thought of all this trash being washed down into storm drains where the next stop is a river or lake somewhere, and the ocean beyond where plastic bottles and Styrofoam raft up into huge masses of gunk.
People driving down the street look at me like I am just some crazy homeless guy, but there are a few folks who repeatedly see me and thank me for doing the neighborhood a kindness. It keeps the paths cleaner and makes me feel like I’m contributing toward some good. But it has developed into its own sort of mania. In part I wonder what it is we are leaving the Emma’s of the world (and that applies to your kids, too, Reid, when they come to pass). The sum total is that my paltry effort to keep one route clean is loosely related to the much, much larger concerns of climate change, etc. What’s truly nuts is there is always trash to be picked up. Day-after-day. I always come home with a full bag. There’s never a day off. It makes me think ‘WTF?’ is up with stupid people.
The other lunacy this weekend was switching channels when it looked like Nebraska was going to get rolled by Northwestern. They came back, of course, and now I wear my weak-kneed Cornhusker shame much more than ever happens as I tote around my plastic bags.