This weekend Enviro-Girl rallied the troops (AKA Team Testosterone) to perform the annual ditch cleaning. Living in the country on nearly 60 acres alongside a county highway, Enviro-Girl constantly battles invasive species--including litter. Plastic shopping bags, newspapers, styrofoam packaging, fast food wrappers, soda bottles, beer cans and cigarettes get tossed, blown and dropped. Clad in grubby clothes (this is a disgusting job) and gloves and armed with two huge garbage bags, they headed out.
Enviro-Girl took one side of the driveway, Team Testosterone took the other. They stooped and grabbed. The bags slowly filled. A waterlogged pizza container. A milk carton. They got to the road and started picking up the ditch.
The road is where Enviro-Girl gets really pissed off. It's all Tavern Trash--beer bottles, beer cans, cigarette cartons and the occasional bottle of soda. There's no house or business for miles and the road runs across a creek--this stuff doesn't blow in naturally--it's not the result of someone's trash barrel accidentally blowing over and spilling out. It's the result of bar hoppers and underage drinkers who are rude and evil. Enviro-Girl pictures them driving through at 2 a.m., taking aim at the bridge with their beer bottles as they pass. Yee-haw! Team Testosterone has gotten really good at gathering other people's garbage over the years--the system is two people carry the bags while everybody swarms out and picks up what they can find. But Enviro-Girl gets crabby and grumpy and starts grousing not only about the G.D. Litterbugs, she starts ragging on her kids to pick up the slack. Come on! You walked right past that bottle, Mr. B! You see something, pick it up! I don't want to be out here all day!
The kids are ornery because Hey! It's Saturday afternoon and instead of playing we're in a ditch picking up people's garbage so lay off! Mr. T informed Enviro-Girl that he hates Ditch Day because she yells too much. In other words, Enviro-Girl has morphed into Ditch Bitch.
Humbled by his remark, Enviro-Girl changed her tune. She knows that if the management is mean to the workers, they rebel. She enocuraged her troops and suggested a game to keep things interesting. What's the weirdest thing they could find? The grossest? Spirits revived, they worked their way towards the creek.
"It's a dinosaur fossil!" Mr. G shrieked, running down towards a pile of bones. His brothers chased after him to see the carcass of a deer--the spinal column, rib cage and skull all intact. "Cool!"
"Hey, Mr. T! You're stepping on it's leg bones!" Enviro-Girl called. He jumped and looked down at his feet atop the knee joint. Roadkill wins for being the Coolest Thing they discovered. All agreed to let it be--anything that comes from nature, banana peels, leaves, dead mammals will biodegrade naturally.
Several paces later they found the Weirdest Thing: A toothbrush. But they all agreed half-drunk bottles of water was pretty strange too. "I mean, you buy water, then you don't even drink it. You cap the bottle and you throw it by the creek. Which is water. So like you're trying to give water back to the Earth, but really you're not," Mr. T ruminated.
The half-empty soda and beer cans/bottles had to get poured out or the bags would be too heavy to drag, so Enviro-Girl spent a lot of time twisting off caps. Glug glug glug. One particular bottle was half spilled on the ground (and splattering her Wellies) when the smell hit her and she retched and nearly barfed alongside the road. Yep, it was a bottle full of spit. (For readers unfamiliar with rednecks, guys who chew tobacco usually spit into a container--a can or bottle resulting in a nasty mix of saliva and chewed Kodiak.) She still gags to think about it--and the smell followed her around all day long. Definitely the Grossest.
Weary and filthy, Enviro-Girl and her sidekicks trudged back to the homefront. She'd toss the full garbage sacks into the ditch and put them in the dumpster Monday night when she dragged it out by the road. No point in dragging the weight all the way down to the house and back again for the garbage pick-up. She yelled at Team Testosterone to run ahead, wash up and have a snack. They had earned their break. And then it happened.
In the stand of willows near the end of her driveway, Enviro-Girl spotted a plastic soda bottle she'd missed when they'd come through earlier. She dropped the bags and climbed through the ditch after it. Crawling through the branches, she leaned in to grab the bottle and a twig jammed into her eye. Yow! Today her left eye is still sore and irritated. It's true, people. Enviro-Girl's commitment to Planet Earth is so great that she'll even endure physical pain.
Yes, Woodsy, Enviro-Girl will harken your cry.