I hope we are teaching our children to treat the earth with respect all year round. (There is only one, my son tells me.) I know we can always do more, learn more and be an even better example. As with everyone else we try to do little things all year, using canvas shopping bags, composting, gardening, car-pooling, and recycling. I even attempt to pass off my thrift store obsession and used bookstore passion as me saving the world one vintage cardigan at a time. It’s the free roadside furniture compulsion that my husband believes that needs intervention. I know I can fix whatever orphaned bureau sits on the roadside with the huge FREE sign attached to it convincing myself I am freeing the landfills of dressers. My husband wishes for me to make a smaller gesture. All jokes aside the kids know we are really just scratching the surface.
Every year we have taken on the job of cleaning up the Ampersand Mountain trailhead. After the first few years of trying to convince my children that its fun I now just go for the tack of, “Do you really want to look at that?” The kids wonder how much garbage accidentally falls out of people’s pockets. I ask the kids to assume that people don’t mean to litter. We all have had something fall out of our pockets and blow away with the wind. My son mutters under his breath that it must have been quite a wind to carry off a Christmas tree and a carton of empty beer cans.
We take a bit of a climb first only to discover that someone decided to leave their mark in a different way. My children ask why anyone would want to etch their name on a rock. I can’t even begin to answer. It takes a certain kind of person to write their name on a mountain. That same person is probably off declaring their undying love for another on the back of a bathroom stall, because nothing quite says love like a heart in a public restroom.
We empty our water bottles over the boulders and rub out the words as best we can. Rain and wind should take care of the rest. These people didn’t make a permanent mark but did leave an impact on my children. I guess that is the positive part of the equation.
(as published in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise)