One Man’s Trash

DAY 192 / MILE 1308

I’ve now completed walking the named subdivisions lying outside the Dosta ramparts, that are reflected on my 55 inch map of the town . While there are more named subdivisions out in Lowndes county, my friends at PRINT LIFE (who made the map) made me aware that in order to produce one large enough for me to trace every named subdivision, and every community in the county too, would require a wall map, the notion to which my hen put her three toed foot down (or is it four). So, as to the other subdivisions not depicted on my map, I’ll have to give’em the Sargent Shultz treatment: “I see nonthink”. Besides, the very small ones out in the county that I’ve already walked tend to be family tracts they’ve had dedicated as subdivisions, and (so I found out) don’t want me in their neighborhoods.  Some of’em have names like Serinity Pines or Paradise Estates, with all lots ceded to offspring (each lot big enough to roll a home onto and store several former modes of transportation).

THE common thing I’ve noticed about our land (and thereby, our people), whether it be our rural environs, our outlying hamlets, or our city on a hill…is that they’re not shining. So much natural glow is dulled by a near ubiquitous layer of every type of human detritus imaginable. Too many areas are littered bad enough to be downright jarring; like finding a turd in your kettle of pilau. Of course some areas are worse than others, but the only places I’ve encountered where there wasn’t a scrap -o- trash was on the byways of gated neighborhoods. I used to believe the gates were for security. They’re not. They’re there to keep the trash out (ya keep the first kind out and the second kind, kind-of takes care of itself). The observation reminded me of the many Sunday dinners in Beachton with the in-laws, often followed by taking a swing through plantation country on rural red clay roads in Thomas and Grady counties. I was struck that none of those ancient sunken roads we cruised were festooned with discarded loungers, broken appliances, fast food to-go bags, bottles, cans, etc.. They were downright pristine. There was a lesson offered me on that first ride, that took. It doesn’t take a paid yard man to pick up trash off ones own road (if only in front of your own dwelling), it just takes a resident that cares. Plantation gentry and urban blue bloods, seem to intuit the value in tidiness that some folk just don’t know.  Nowadays, its not uncommon for my neighbors on Coffee Rd. (the dirt part I live on) to see me picking up trash from the road and ditches, (and I’ve picked out a train load). While the effort doesn’t transform the look of our little glen to that of a gated community or gentleman’s farm, it does turn the dial one click closer to paradise.

I remember once while walking (actually twice), happening upon a type of roadside trash I found downright dazzling. Some angelic Appleseed had discarded a shitload of colored faux flowers that made me think I must’ve been hit by a car and had arrived in Paradise Estates. If only all trash could be so enchanting. But alas, soon the color of the flowers gave way to colorful garbage in endless variety. It was then I  began to theorize that when seen from a car window, the brain registers litter as just little blurs of color that streak past, like random wildflowers on the right of ways. (And who doesn’t love a touch of color, right?). Over time, we become inured to living with the blight. At this point It’s important that my aim is true with respect to blame. The city and county government do all they reasonably can to stem an overwhelming trash tide. In fact, their multi pronged litter abatement program recently received special recognition by the state. The blame lies on a community attitude that has no problem with the practice of -everything goes out the car window-. Of course I’m aware the only way to completely eliminate litter is to die and move to Paradise Acres (the one up there), or to win the lottery and move to a gated community. I’d prefer the latter but the (g)odds are against me. We can do better. Trashy is, as trashy does and that type  distributes theirs for the rest to see. The problem is, the rest (who don’t litter) are indifferent, taking little notice of it, which (in my umble opinion) is more insidious.

What to do? Maybe it’s time to contact the agent of that native American in the anti-littering commercial of 1970 (Iron Eyes Cody). By shedding a single tear, that man restored a nation’s pride in the land and created a tribe of eco-warriors. It worked! But more practically, our local government might consider enlarging their anti-littering signs from 12 x 18 inches (which is as effective as a URL code at 45 mph) to 14 x 48 feet. The larger the dimensions, the larger the subliminal. And finally, like the current anti-litter signs read “Love where you live”. Don’t be too embarrassed (or lazy) to be spotted picking up the trash in front of your own yard or along your street. Like another important activity, it only takes a minute and makes you feel real good.

Quote of the week: “The longer I walk, the less I differentiate between my body, my mind, and my surroundings. The external and internal worlds overlap. I am no longer an observer looking at my surroundings, but the entirety of my body is involved”.      Erling Kagge  –  Walking…One Step at a Time.

Lastly, I wish to encourage anyone who follows my walk and who appreciates the vital work of The Suwannee Riverkeeper to please contribute to their important conservational cause. You can donate easily with the DONATE button below. A river of thanks to all who do!