Late Wednesday afternoon, I was driving home from Ladysmith. I live along a beautiful Wisconsin country road, wooded in places with low lands and swamp along other stretches. Each spring I hold my breath as the snow recedes, hoping fellow travelers along this road value it’s beauty and store their own trash and garbage--little bits of cellophane candy wrappers, empty cigarette packages, leftover fast food wrappers and bottles in their cars to be disposed of in the trash when they come home.
I was particularly hopeful in the beginning because Tony and I had scoured the mile and a half into town last year. We went out each nice day for about two weeks in April and May and came home with a feeling of accomplishment. There was not one piece of trash on the road when we finished! I felt very proud of our work and stopped each time, not without a degree of irritation, when I would see a new piece of just thrown out garbage on my nice clean road.
I lost all hope as the snow vanished. There, just as last year, the debris of disposable paper cups, bottles, and cigarettes appeared everywhere as if to taunt me, saying, “You can’t stop us! Nobody cares enough.”
But with renewed commitment, I was out last week, this time armed with bags and gloves and an ATV to haul it all. As I picked up the trash, I daydreamed about the signs I could put up. Since I am fond of toads, I thought of one slogan, “Toads don’t litter.” Then I thought of another--a play on words, “Only Pigs Litter.” While chuckling to myself about the humor of that, Dennis Weimer, came jogging back from a run. He stopped to tell me about the bags and bags of trash he and Cheryl had collected along another favorite road. Hurray Dennis! In my opinion, this qualifies for sainthood.
But I started to tell you about last Wednesday. As I rounded a curve in the road I saw a new neighbor with her two sons and their dog. They weren’t just taking a walk. They were picking up trash, picking up trash on my beautiful country road! The boys, Hunter and Cole were wearing disposable gloves and finding every last piece of garbage along that stretch of road. I was overjoyed to see a parent, Wendy Strop, taking the time at the end of a busy day to teach her sons how to value and cherish the land we live on. Prayers answered; we do live in God’s country.
Like Dennis and Cheryl, Wendy, Cole, and Hunter; I am going to continue to keep my little corner of the world clear of trash and be optimistic again about my fellow travelers, hoping that today’s story touches someone like you who I will meet next year along a beautiful country road, teaching your children, as Wendy is teaching hers, to cherish and care for the land we live on.
Cole, Wendy, and Hunter Strop—Hunting for Trash