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Cleanup Time

Spring has us out in fellowship, purpose and celebration

March 20 was the last day of winter. March 21 was the first full day of spring.
    As you’ll remember, a season divided those days. Winter threw a hissy fit on its way out. Spring warmed our chilled hearts and invited us out.
    In Southern Anne Arundel County, the neighborhoods of Fairhaven and Arkhaven accepted the invitation. Close as we live, many of us hadn’t met for weeks; the weather wasn’t fit for fellowship. Mother Earth was a stranger, too, hidden beneath snow or whipped by wind and wintry mix. Spring’s first day was our reunion and the appointed date for our neighborhood cleanup.
    Garbed in boots, gloves and good spirits, we met at the corner for greetings and indefatigable organizer Kathy Gramp’s coffee and banana bread. By the time we reunited for community lunch, we’d not only have caught up on community gossip but also have made a better world. Behind us, dozens of heavy-duty black plastic trash bags proved our achievement.
    The hours in between were dirty work.
    Mud sucked off boots and trapped cars. In Arkhaven Dan Westland’s ancient tractor came to the rescue. But winter is not the nastiest mess maker of one entrapped car.
    Human trash is worse.
    The Arkhaven crew conquered a very large manmade dump, including a mattress. Farther up the road, mattress springs were hauled out by Barbara Smith, who also got the work of cleaning up the remains of butchered deer.
    Were cranes working with us, we could have added at least one abandoned boat to our refuge piles, plus a half-dozen rusted hulls of cars deeper in the woods. Of automotive junk, we collected only a half-dozen or so of tires, one still on its wheel. Years of cleanups, together with ­neighborly everyday pickups, have made a difference.
    Aluminum and glass are scarce nowadays. Even the bottles we pick up are mostly plastic, with beer the exception. “Miller Lite is the most popular beer of those who litter Fairhaven Road, outnumbering all other beer bottles and cans by better than 3 to 1,” Don Stewart reported.
    Even fishing line is plastic, though the virtues Sporting Life columnist Dennis Doyle extols — invisibility and indestructability — make it a deadly hazard when torn off a reel and left as litter.
    Metal rusts, but plastic will tell our story for ages to come.
    With spring, opportunity abounds to deprive future anthropologists of that story. Get together to clean up your neighborhood, your stream, your watershed.
    April 11 is the Chesapeake’s largest watershed-wide clean up day. Organized by the Alliance for the Bay, Project Clean Stream aims to bring out 10,000 volunteers at over 500 sites across all six Bay states and D.C. The goal is to collect one million pounds of trash.
    Find a cleanup site at cleanstream.allianceforthebay.org.
    After the dirty work, clean yourself up for a party. Ours was swell in food, company and the satisfaction of knowing our mother, Mother Earth, approved.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com