Monday, March 29, 2010

napoleon.. a propos of nothing
Out west.. space is the place..

So it's raining, cats and dogs here. The entire tiny yard is a sea of, well, what else? water. Pervious surface is at a premium here at the Jersey shore, so flooding in the streets and parking areas is the norm. I waded in four inches in my suede boots today trying to get to the Beachcomber to FAX something. jeez!

The beach can lift your spirits and break your heart, all within a few moments. You cast your soul over the sand's ascetic purity, out over the waves, smiling like a fool when suddenly that scene in The Graduate looms before you, where the cuckolded husband collars Benjamin and insists he listen up: the future belongs to "plastics, ma boy". Little did Mike Nichols know back in 68 that our beaches would come to fester with plastic of every conceivable size, shape and useless permutation, degraded to the most microscopic, yet ultimately indestructible particle imaginable, infesting the guts of seabirds, fish and all living things. Generally creeping me out no end. And , generally speaking, it pisses me off.

The other day T and I were taking our afternoon stroll on the beach, resting against a sanddune after a several mile hike, when a man smoking a cigarette came ambling along the path to the beach, moving ever so cautiously to about midway twixt the waves and the dunes, where he paused indefinitely to smoke and get his bearings. His carriage conveyed a general suspicion of the out of doors, a mistrust of the uneven sand and wind. He was followed shortly by a couple with a leashed rather large dog, an exuberant pair, and the three of them were taking the air together, it appeared, friends, as it were. The couple let the dog off the leash in order to encourage it to relieve itself along the dune line. The woman was loud and fond of the word shit; the man wandered over nonchalantly to kick sand over the dog's poop. Then they releashed the dog and all retreated landward at the next street exit. They were there to toss a ciggie butt and a dog poop on the sand; that was it. I fumed, exclaiming to T that it was precisely this kind of lazy, careless, me first, who gives a crap, the world is my toilet attitude that I found so vile in Americans today.

And then I started bitching about all the plastic the bulldozers were bulldozing off the beach and into the grassy dunes in preparation for the summer tourists. T wanted to believe the dozer fellas picked up all the plastic and carted it to recycle. I insisted no, that the tire tread evidence pointed to the contrary, that they just buried it and hoped for the best. A nice fresh looking sand dune with bits of evidence poking out here and there.

As you can probably sense, I am furious mad on the subject of plastic of every make and model. The way we use it, toss it aside, buy more, toss that aside, as it all finds its way to the ocean dissolving into microscopic bits that lay about, quite invisible, poisoning us all. Screwing with our delicate hormones..

It's enough to make you bitter, cynical, pissed, really pissed...

And then I realize, hey! i don't want to feel this way, Yes these folks are unfeeling, ignorant slobs, but that doesn't mean I can't do something to remedy this on my own. So I started picking stuff up. Just a few things every day, dumping it in the city trash can near the road or in my recycle at home. And I started to feel just a little bit better. Every thing I picked up was one less thing to offend my eye when I walked the beach.

Like I said when we were traveling cross country: America! Pick up your trash!! So i did.

And then I get this email from Sherry; and Waalaa! she sends me the story of the starfish. And here is it.

A storm tide had washed huge numbers of starfish up on a beach and when it receded they were left stranded. A man saw that they would die, so he began throwing them, one by one, back in the sea. Another man came along and said, “What do you think you are doing? Don’t you know that you can’t save them all?” The first man picked up another starfish and threw it back to safety. “I helped that one,” he said.

And her email read:

Sometimes those of us with grand notions of our own possibilities can feel defeated by the immensity of the problems and the often noisy ignorance of so much that passes for civilization. I love the (non-Biblical) parable of the starfish on the beach. We may not be able to rescue all the suffering masses, but we can help this one, and that one, and that other one. Thinking and participating globally is necessary, too, but it’s in our dealings with the people right here around us that most of us can change the world.

We have snow today, maybe a half inch, but Mainers are tough and can handle setbacks. I have one daffodil blooming, and so it begins….

I just loved that, timely wasn't it? Sherry is a doll.

So get out there and pick up some trash, people!! And get someone else to help you!!

Like my Nanny used to say: Don't make me get my shoe out!

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