Just 99 degrees, another perfect day in Arizona. We slid our kayaks away from the crowds and paddled away. Me hoping to build that upper body strength in my bright yellow kayak, circling islands looking for animals, enjoying the sparkle across the top of the ripples and waves. Such #peace and #joy in nature. Life becomes very simple. Just paddling, singing to myself and exploring.
Then we reached the wind swept side of the first island and were stunned by the amount of trash that blew ashore. I stopped to pick up plastic water bottles and smaller pieces of colorful plastic the fish and animals might mistake for food. My husband found an intact Styrofoam chest and enough trash to fill it. Clever man fit the base of it into the storage hatch in his kayak and tied it down. We paddled on.
To my delight I found an intact child’s blow up purple dinosaur swim toy. I tied it onto the deck of my kayak and headed out again. This time looking for a child to give it to. Mission accomplished; a delighted child and happy parents, we paddled on.
There was more trash than we could fit in our boats. We did what we could – beer cans, wine bottles, juice packets, into the boats. Then another island and a stop for a delicious swim in the not entirely warm water.
Seems since the Sierra Club lake cleanup my husband organized last year we can’t kayak without bringing out the trash we can manage. There’s grace in being able to clean up without animosity towards all those who leave the stuff behind. I understand a paper plate that blows away and of course the child’s blow up toy that escaped but it must be a cultural difference that causes people to eat and drink and leave the containers behind.
How about the baby diapers? I couldn’t touch them. We brought the bottles and cans home to recycle and put the rest into the park’s trash cans. Not everyone lives by my environmental preferences. I accept that.
Is there an answer? Is it time for another nationwide “litter campaign” like we had in the ‘70’s?
No matter. I had a wonderful day, paddling along, enjoying the water, the sun, and the children’s yells of delight. I’m willing to pick up trash. I’m thankful I can do it without resentment.