By Terry Connell
From my balcony, I could see heavy, gray clouds hanging low on the mountains. The air was thick with moisture, and the wind was picking up, but it wasn’t until I heard the deep rumble of thunder in the distance that I jumped into action. Calling my dog, I grabbed her leash and hustled us out the door before it started raining.
Twenty minutes later, I was back on the balcony with a fresh cup of coffee, my book, and my dog at my feet, ready for a good storm.
And it was a good one – for more than an hour, rain poured down in buckets as quick flashes of lightening split the air, quickly followed by ground shaking thunder.
For a while, I tried to read, but eventually gave up, letting my eyes settle on the river rolling and splashing three floors below. It was a perfect morning…..until I noticed a white bottle of laundry detergent floating downstream, bobbing up and down, bouncing around the rocks.
Then I saw a lone sneaker, quickly followed by a water bottle, another detergent bottle…
The next morning I was at the mouth of the river with my dog – and a large trash bag, picking up the garbage flushed out by the storm and all I could think of is that line from The Graduate, “I want to say one word to you, just one word….Plastics.”
With every water bottle, shopping bag, and straw I pick up, I heard those words bouncing around in my brain. Almost fifty years later, that quote isn’t just a prediction, it’s become a curse.
There are so many threads to the conversation about the environment that it’s easy to get tangled in the who to blame/who should be cleaning up loop.
I get caught in it all the time. My mind spins a negative story with every empty liquor bottle I find or when I stuff another dirty diaper in the garbage bag.
But here’s the thing: my thoughts don’t change what I see in front of me; a trash covered beach that needs to be cleaned up.
For the record, I’ve also found broken umbrellas, countless beer bottles and cans, all kinds of take-out containers and a surprising number of shoes.
I’ve rolled five or six car tires off the beach in the last year and even found a tube of fluorescent lighting – completely intact; probably washed ashore from a cruise ship.
I sat down to write about the guilty pleasure of a cup of coffee and a good storm. It’s one of the best parts of living here in low season.
I plan to be on my balcony enjoying as many as possible this season. You will also find me at the mouth of the river after the storm, trying to ignore my thoughts as I pick up the endless supply of plastic bottles and other garbage flushed out by the rains.
By Terry Connell