Finding Treasures

An easy lesson I’ve learned from walking the beach is how easy it is, while collecting shells and looking at nature, to also gather up trash along the way.  Once again, Maggie… the wonderful turtle lady, is  always equipped with a  keen eye for artifacts that are foreign to the beach, and a sack full of extra trash bags to put those items into.   Joan, an annual visitor from Chicago, and her two young kids who were helping Maggie count turtle hatchlings, explained that she and  her kids have been coming here for years, and that her kids are now old enough to actually help.  But more importantly, Joan told us, was that now, wherever they go, her children know the importance of picking up trash, before the animals get a hold of it.

Yesterday morning at high tide, after a night of thunderstorms I decided to take a long walk along the beach to see what washed ashore. In a short distance, spotting some foreign object, I realized that I forgot to bring a trash bag, despite my determination to always have one on hand.  I told myself that today I wouldn’t worry about it, a little bit won’t hurt.  I walked a little further, picking shells, rocks and other interesting rewards from the sea, when I spotted a half chewed zip lock bag.  If a bird, turtle or any other creature had eaten the plastic, chances are they would suffocate from it.  I picked it up, and before I knew it, began filling it with all kinds of miscellaneous man-made debris.   Simultaneously I was rewarded with shells, rocks and coral treasures, washed up from the storm.

This was not a difficult chore… as a matter-of-fact, once your radar is set for noticing foreign objects, your eyes are quickly drawn to objects that seem out of place.  What a simple thing we can do, to repay for the beaches, parks, campgrounds or hiking trails, to gather a little trash along the way.  Perhaps when others notice us carrying a bag full of candy wrappers, old flip-flops and water bottles and other remnants of non-indigenous visitors, they will, at the very least, be reminded to not litter… maybe even take up this strange practice as well.  And if more kids can become part of this effort, maybe… maybe… we can try to undo this illogical practice of leaving garbage where none belongs.