How did it get there? That was my main question.
No, I’m not talking about the moose bones discarded on an ATV trail some 10 kilometres out of the city. OK — I get that. The water-logged dark grey sleeping bag tossed over a bush, as if drying, but left so long it was molding? Camping trip gone bad, I thought. Same story for the full-sized chicken broiling pan that was 600 metres from the road, the lid 15 metres further on, the base of the pan filled with rust-coloured water and one large rock. Not all camping adventures end well, or in ordered ways.
The black faux-leather recliner set, torn and cat-scratched on one end, tossed into the woods not far off the highway? Clearly the leftovers from someone who doesn’t care about the environment and couldn’t be bothered to make the drop-off at the nearby regional landfill. There are, after all, losers everywhere, and it was a short, albeit bumpy easy offload.
It wasn’t even the water container from the back of a Keurig coffee machine, bobbing in the side-current of a five-foot-wide brook. Just like with the empty pop and water bottles and the chunks of foam insulation, you could imagine that water container somehow getting into the brook, and then floating its way down to a point a kilometre and a half from even the nearest ATV trail.
No, what threw me was the full-sized, rusted disc brake from a car. Not just because it seemed so out of place, settled into the bright-green moss at the edge of the brook, right below where the crumbling beaver lodge sits.
What threw me about it was the effort involved.
Everything else was just a sign of the basic, uncaring laziness of people. Can’t be bothered to wait until you’re home to put your pop bottle in the recycling? Flick it out the window. Coffee cup, fast-food bag, cigarette butts? Why, the world is your repository — heave away.
Can’t be bothered to clean up your mess? Walk away, never look back, and never come back, either. Back the truck up to the edge of the road and push out the old furniture — done!
But this was another level.
I was, by that time, almost three quarters of an hour off the highway, far enough that, instead of the trucks and cars, I could hear the cheep of the osprey circling low enough above me that I could see the banded pattern of its underside.
Can’t be bothered to wait until you’re home to put your pop bottle in the recycling? Flick it out the window.
There were ducks with easily panicked ducklings, a lot of moose sign, some of it very fresh wet droppings, the only human sound the occasional whine of a float plane engine to the east. Plenty of trash, some shed by others who had used the same trail, much more of it carried down the brook itself from the highway and the ditches.
But who takes the time to carry a disc brake for two kilometres, only to let it fall in among close-knit spruce right along the waterside? I mean, I once found a Styrofoam hamburger container five solid kilometres into a wilderness area, but that puzzle solved itself when I opened it and the worm castings showed it had been converted into transport for bait.
Somewhere out there, though is a person who lugged a big heavy chunk of metal for miles, only to ditch it.
A for effort. F for awareness.
Soon, things will green over here, and many things will be out of sight again until the winter comes.
Out of sight, maybe. Darned if I can get them out of my mind, though.
Russell Wangersky’s column appears in 36 SaltWire newspapers and websites in Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org — Twitter: @wangersky.
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