"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Friday, May 6, 2011

Litter Notes, May 6, 2011

Ten in the evening.  Alpenglow from the setting sun is kissing the mountain peaks goodnight.

My body wants to be in bed; my mind says otherwise.

The two are at odds with each other these days, with the mind biting off large chunks of chores and the body protesting vehemently.  It's spring and most of the snow and ice is gone.  That means one thing around here:  Litter picking season is in full swing.

With the last of the firewood stacked in the woodshed, I've begun picking up litter along the highway, totally ignoring all the chores I should be doing at home.  There's only one place I want to be and that's out walking the ditches, filling yellow bags with beer bottles, diapers, and fast food wrappers.

It's become an obsession.  Each spring when I begin, I fear this might be the last season I can do this.   Last year it was my shoulder;  this year it's the ankle I injured in Mexico a couple years ago.  A couple days ago I didn't think I was going to make it back to my truck, the ankle hurt so much.  As I was limping along the last hundred yards to the truck (picking up litter, of course), it dawned on me how I could placate the sniveling, whining, complainiing ankle--turn around and walk the other way!  DUH!

It was that simple.  I hurt the ankle by hyper-extending it inward.  When I walk the ditches facing traffic, that's the way the ankle bends along the sloped shoulders of the highway.  If I walk with traffic (not quite as safe), the ankle bends outward, which is okay.  Mostly.

I'm now working twelve miles from home, but there's a mile and three-quarter gap distance that I haven't yet cleaned.  I have to bite off those chucks in little bites because I get so discouraged.  A couple years ago six miles of highway was re-done and upgraded, but after it was paved, the contractor put down glue-on lane striping.
Notice how pieces of the lane striping is missing?

That's because it's all over the sides of the road.
When the snow plows come through in the winter, pieces of that striping are scraped up, littering the sides of the road.  No matter how much litter I pick up, the shoulders still look a mess.  I get what I can, but that lane striping is like cigarette butts, which I also don't pick up because the human life span is far too short.

Gully's been here.

When I finally dragged myself back to the truck this evening, the bag count reached 103 bags.  Some explanations are required.  Not all the bags are full.  I carry them until the shoulder says, "That's it.  I'm not playing anymore."  So, I tie off the bag and leave it on the side of the road.

Sometimes I leave a partially filled bag if there's something large, like a tire, that won't fit in the bag.  Or, if I've finished with a section and the bag isn't full, I'll leave it rather than take it home.  Most of the time, though, either the shoulder or the hand complains about the weight of the bag.

I'm going to bed.  I'll let you enjoy the photos of some things I've found so far:

A high school advanced mathematics book.  It was in a foreign language even though most of the words appeared to be in English.
A mint set of coins, sealed in plastic.
I found a money tree, but it had only one bloom hanging on it.  It was a twenty, though, so that was nice.
I was working along Jerome Lake when this collection of vehicles gathered next to my truck.  About the time I got back to the truck, a tow truck was there to haul away the offender's vehicle.  I'm guessing DUI, or an outstanding warrant.
Bones from a young moose.  Filled a whole bag.

That's a Red Bull can hanging in the bushes.
A green shark squirt gun, six bags of new ear plugs, and a piece of inner tube I need to make a gasket for my pump--the one I'm still using to pump my septic tank down because the line to the leach field is still frozen!%#(##(!!.
This was a first.  An electric meter.
This is something I do not understand.  Why do people buy these expensive bottles of water and throw them out unopened or after drinking very little?  Also, in the last week I've found a liter bottle of unopened beer, as well as four 12-oz. bottles of beer.  Because the regular bottles of beer are usually found with five empties, I reckon by the time someone has drunk five beers they don't have any idea they're throwing out their last full one.  But a whole liter?
Two wheel weights, a porcupine skull, a black rubber strap, two golf  balls, a stop watch, and I don't have a clue what that brown thing is.
I've already found three of these, though this picture is from last year.  RVs store their drain hoses in rear bumpers and these are end caps.  I usually find the drain hose a few miles down the highway.

Night, night.

Litter bag count:  103


  1. Your evening "afterglow" mountain pictures are beautiful! God's country up there. Hope those sealed coins are worth lotsa money cause you deserve it!

  2. Hope you are getting a great night's sleep. You deserve it.

    I was peacefully reading a little while ago when I heard loud bubbling sounds from the bathroom. An hour later, and Buck & I just finished mopping. Looks like it's an air vent issue between washing machine and toilet. Ah, well, into each life a little rain must fall.

    Anyway, it sure helped us digest our supper quickly!

    Enjoyed your mountain pictures and also the interesting musings and pictures from your good citizen litter patrol work.