Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ignorance...Bliss for you Alone

Valley Pride Day...a large-scale cleanup of my little valley, well organized by many wonderful volunteers and participated in by many, many people.  We clean up the trash on the sides of the roads that has been accumulating all winter and hidden by the snow.  Then we all get together for a great barbecue,  This year we even got to swim in a local indoor water park!

Zoe is 4 now, and I felt like it was the year to become involved.  In the past we have always participated in the day by doing some sort of clean-up in our backyard, but this year I though she and I could do the real thing.  We went down to the headquarters and picked up out official bags, blue for trash, and yellow for recycling.  We put on our gardening turned trash cleaning gloves then we headed out to find some litter (not at all difficult to do). 

Our first stop was where a little side street near our house meets the main road.  We found cans, newspapers, socks, computer cords, cigarette packs and lots and lots of empty liquor bottles.  After judging the area to be as clean as we could make it, and sorting the recyclables, we packed the full bags into the back of the car then went to find one more area to pick up.

This time our destination was even closer to home.  At the outer edge of our property there is about an acre of unused wetland and I had noticed from recent walks that there was a lot of trash accumulating.  We headed out again armed with bags and gloves.  After filling a bag each and pulling out a half rotted chair surrounded by empties (someone might be disappointed with that removal) we called it a day.  This time Dad came by and packed the bags and the chair into the pick-up while we walked along the road heading home.

As we walked, I launched into a great discussion about the good we had done.  We were talking about how we were helping the earth and helping our community.  We talked about how much nicer it was going to be for all the people that drove, walked and biked past the area.  We wondered why people would throw their trash on the side of the road anyway...and vowed that we never would.  It was great!  A real teachable moment, just what I wanted.

And then it became teachable in a very different way.  Down the road came a neighbor's truck.  A neighbor who has a "Property Maintenance" company, but in reality seems to be a bit of a hoarder.  Along came his pick-up, pulling an open trailer, both of which were filled to overflowing and uncovered.  Filled with trash.  As the truck drove past, my daughter and I watched trash fly out and onto the quarter mile stretch of road that we had just cleaned.

Many choice words were on the tip of my tongue, and I had to fight really, really, really hard to hold them in.  "Wow, I'm feeling a little angry right now," is what I forced myself to say.  "I am too," my daughter replied.  Then we picked up the trash.

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