Two years ago this month...
A few of the reasons Cindy and I decided to move to the country were the tranquility, the peace and quiet and the starry, starry nights.
It’s no secret that the beautiful and scenic country roads of Senoia I now get to run on factored into the decision. Words can’t express how much I love running on wide open, rolling asphalt roads weaving through pastures, woods and lakes in the still of a quiet and lazy morning in the country. My favorite country road is named Dead Oak and I’ve included it on the routes I’ve used for several road races I’ve conducted over the past few years.
One Saturday morning I asked my grandson if he wanted to help me pick up trash along the side of the road. He enthusiastically said ‘yes’ along with one simple request: “Can we go to McDonald’s when we’re finished?” The request no grandfather can refuse.
So I grabbed a couple of large black plastic trash bags while Krischan grabbed his plastic knife and gun to fight any zombies we might run across. We then hopped in the truck and headed over to Dead Oak.
We spent the next couple of hours picking up every piece of trash we could find along the one-mile stretch between Rising Star and Hardy Roads. Actually Krischan did the picking while I held the bag. Krischan made sure he tossed every single beer bottle, paper cup and potato chip bag he ran across into our bag.
I use the word “ran” in the literal sense: If I didn’t know better I would have sworn Krischan was on an Easter egg hunt. In his mind every piece of trash was pure gold. He was running up embankments to get his hands on a plastic cup lid, then sliding back down on his fanny after losing his footing on the slippery pine needles.
He was throwing caution to the wind reaching into sharp, prickly vegetation to get his hands on a candy bar wrapper. He was – after looking both ways for oncoming traffic, of course (we only saw one car all afternoon; more on that in a moment) – darting back and forth across the road, as he didn’t want to miss inspecting everything and anything that wasn’t green.
Every time we ran across two or three beer bottles or soda cans in close proximity Krischan said it looked like “somebody had a party here.” I asked him who would have a party on the side of the road. Without hesitation he replied: “Party dudes.”
I looked at him and asked, “Seriously, party dudes?” Doubting himself and replying with more of a question than a statement, he said, “Party poopers?”
This led to my explanation of what constituted a ‘litter bug’ and Krischan, never reluctant with a question asked, ‘Who would do such a bad thing to nature?’ I asked him what he learned in kindergarten about nature.
He replied: “Nature is beautiful.” I told him he was right, but every now and then nature needed a helping hand. That’s where we came in.
Back to that one car we saw while we were picking up trash. An elderly woman was driving by and stopped once she saw us. She asked if “the blue truck a ways back” was ours. I told her it was. She told us how much she appreciated what Krischan and I were doing. I told her I appreciated her saying that as Krischan was diving into a ditch to retrieve an empty plastic gallon milk jug.
Once Krischan and I secured every single piece of garbage, trash and litter he could get his hands on, we threw everything in the back of the truck and headed off for our much-deserved lunch. About two miles down the road we saw an elderly woman picking up trash that had brushed up against a fence. It was the same woman who had stopped to thank us earlier. I believe she lives on the horse farm behind the fence. Maybe picking up trash was something she does on a regular basis.
Then again, maybe she was simply inspired by the work of a little boy three generations her junior.
I sent this story to a Coweta County official asking if there was any consideration for a county-wide adopt-a-mile program. I found out there wasn’t but that it was being considered, and they would be in touch.
Two years later I haven’t heard anything. On Earth Day, Krischan and I participated in Senoia’s Clean Up Day campaign. We picked up every piece of trash on both sides of Pylant Street.
If Senoia can be “the little town that can,” I don’t see why Coweta is still “the big county that can’t.”
Scott Ludwig lives, runs and writes in Senoia with his wife Cindy, three cats and never enough visits from his grandson Krischan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His books can be found on his author page on Amazon.