Mother Nature has been making up for last summer’s August drought the last few months with the snowiest January and February in years, and now after 48 hours of rain, the creek on Furman Lane is rolling brown and full, cleaning out a year’s worth of leaves and branches. The cows are gathered down in the hollow out of the wind, their backs matted and shiny wet after an all night drenching. They chew their cud and silently watch me go down the lane in the car on my weekly garbage run. If I were in the white truck, they would call out a “Where’s the hay?” chorus and rush to the nearest fence, but they know I’m not the dinner wagon.
The gravel road winds along the creek and spring is beginning to show in subtle changes. A green tint on the banks, banks of early Easter flowers, more cardinals in the back yard and lambs and baby calves in the field are unmistakable signs. The lane in winter is a snow tunnel wonderland, sparkling white and dressed in ermine. Now the colors are mostly muddy brown, with another unmistakable sign of spring, litter trash all along the ditches and in the thickets. Snow cover has kept all this accumulation out of sight; now it is hard to believe how much trash has been pitched out of car windows.
Several times every year I walk the lane with a garbage bag and pick up after the thoughtless people who leave their discards on every road. Most of the trash is some form of plastic, which would stay around for years if not picked up, and I wonder how long it will survive in the landfill. I am also convinced that much of the litter along the country roads comes from the current practice of taking garbage out and leaving it along the road for pickup. We have found that if we take garbage out to the highway much before pickup time, it is scattered out again by the neighborhood wildlife, including the family pets, who can’t resist such a tempting treat. Bagging up garbage once is a dirty job; picking it up from the roadside the second time is twice the aggravation.
Another associated hazard are the garbage cans left empty along the roadside; in windy weather they are often in the middle of the road by the time their owners can retrieve them. And the traffic dangers of the garbage truck on narrow country roads makes me hope that the garbage men survive their dangerous job. I have to wonder if there is not a better way to manage garbage pickup. Would drop off spots with large collection bins placed off the road out in the county be a better solution? I carry recycle material to a central location regularly, and would be happy to take garbage out on my own schedule the same way. I realize that some people who don’t pay the garbage pickup fee would probably abuse the system, but if there was a better way to discard garbage the county would still benefit from cleaner roads.
So in my neighborhood, I will keep picking up after the trash droppers, and try to keep our little section of roadside clear of garbage.
By Martha Young