At the end of last fall, when it was time to close up the garden – I had an adventure. I gathered bulbs, gloves, shovel, bucket, and a rake together, balanced them delicately in my arms and headed out behind the fence to enjoy one last dig in the back garden.
As I took one long stride across the widest part of my community garden bed, I put my foot down and feel as if I am going to over-balance. There’s a slippery lump under my left foot and my right foot, now ponderously hanging in the air, is leaving no purchase. With a jerk, I try to find balance, managing to hang on to the armful of equipment with luck. Still teetering in a drunken Jerry Lewis fashion I take another step and without warning spin another 180 degrees before falling on my hind-in with a whump and cracking the back of my head solidly on the cement walkway.
Cars drive by. No one stops. I lay there looking at the sky for a few minutes, recovering what dignity I have left. Not much at this point, I might add, and get myself up and dust off. When I look back at the garden it looks as if an explosion has happened; bulbs, bucket, gloves, shovels and all equipment laying willy-nilly, and a surprise is laying in middle of the mess.
An unhappy surprise. There in the middle of my garden is a piece of garbage – a slick piece of clear wrapper, which is what slipped me up and now had me fuming. Imagine the audacity of that dastardly plastic; purposely targeting me like that!
It did get me thinking about garbage, however. Rarely do I see someone toss trash out the car window – society has learned that tossing garbage out the window is not acceptable. Yet, when we see a piece of trash which has blown in a garden or laying on the ground, particularly if it is more than one step from the side-walk, we do not pick it up. Why? Perhaps we think it is someone else’s problem. Yet the truth is, it is not. Living greener does not mean being green only within a three foot radius of your person. It means taking care of yourself, your family, AND your community.
In our community we have a terrific environmental group called the “Adopt-A-Block” club. Once a month, this group gets out to pick up trash in the neighborhoods and to encourage a positive mindset about caring for the neighborhood.
When I take a walk I stop and pick up any trash and recyclables that I see and bring them home for the recycling bin. Why? For pete’s sake people, because it’s the right thing to do! This is why I am always surprised when I see garbage in my public garden back on the bike path – it is next to a public walkway where hundreds of people walk by every week. It is not anyone else’s “responsibility” to care for my garden; it is my own. Yet, I did build this garden for my community to enjoy on public easement property, and the public tells me they want me to keep it there. I think of the pervasive societal implications related to this issue; has our society raised a “ME” generation which does not see the value in caring for nature, for building gardens, or for caring for one another in a community?
I leave you to answer that complicated question and encourage you to clean up trash in the environment – making a difference for your community is a deeply important part of being green and gardening. Help other gardeners take care of the world. Meanwhile, back in my garden, perhaps I should consider wearing safety pads and a helmet to protect myself from my own Jerry Lewis antics. Either way, I will keep picking up trash with a smile.
Shawna Coronado says Get Healthy! Get Green! Get Community!