The Process

Our stretch of warmth has continued, and the evenings are lengthening, which has meant that my walks aren’t so solitary anymore.  I should be glad that we’ve reached the magical 65-degree mark that pulls everyone from their homes, but I’m enough of an introvert (and self-suspected misanthropist) that I’m actually more anxious and annoyed. So, back to the trash.

Yesterday, my very first pick-up was large enough to fill my entire trash bag and force me into early retirement.  It’s just as well, because, as you can see in the first photo, the sun was setting by the time I finally wrangled the boys out the door.  There was only time enough to visit what the boys call “the hideout,”which isn’t really very hidden at all.  It’s just off a public trail, but so far below it that it can feel secluded.  The climb down to it becomes more treacherous after each flood, as the water erodes away the soft earth held together only by the roots of imperiled trees.  It is these roots that we must use to reach the hideout, and they make such uneven steps that I daily expect someone to twist an ankle. At the bottom is a stream, separated from the main river by a small “island” of trees.  The stream remains connected to the main river unless there is a drought, but the water flow is never tremendous. Unless there is a flood, I can wade across it in my green rubber boots, which is what I needed to do last night to retrieve my one large piece of garbage.

Under the roots of a decaying tree, half-submerged in the water, was a tangle of sticks, leaves and something else, white and, from what I could tell, plastic. (See the second photo, above). As I approached, I noticed tiny minnows shifting beneath the water, illuminated by the slanting light of the setting sun. My green boots sank in the mud and my movements, stirring up the muck of winter, quickly obscured them. To avoid falling into the slightly deeper water near the white plastic thingy, I used a stick to dislodge it from its nest of leaves and twigs.  It was heavier than I imagined, but I managed to toss it onto the rocky peninsula that extended from the riverbank, where I shook it out to reveal what we see in the third photo, a big old bag of Purina horse feed, weighed down by the gallons of mud it acquired on its trip down the Monocacy River.

After draining it as much as I could, I stuffed it in my trash bag, where it sat drying while I engaged in a few light-saber duels with my youngest.  His stick was less rotten than mine, so he won. I tried to persuade him that he should cheer me up by carrying the trash bag home, but he wasn’t buying that argument.  My arm still hurts.

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