20120916

Bayfront Cleanup

I am not a morning person, but Bertha had asked me to volunteer for this year's Bayfront Cleanup. Bertha has known my dad since childhood, and if say no to Bertha, it makes my dad look bad, which is why I'm now on the board of my neighborhood association. And it's why I tumbled out of my soft, warm bed at 7:30 this morning, still horribly in need of it, then stumbled through the house to feed the animals, threw on the first articles of clothing my fingers touched, splashed some water on my face, used the toilet and was out the door at 8:00.
An hour later, after signing in, wolfing down a free donut and coffee, finding Bertha and the rest of the contingency from my neighborhood, and grabbing gloves and plastic bags, we were in a van headed toward the creek. The portion that runs under a nearby street is an ideal spot for a homeless encampment: a fairly large covered ledge that's sheltered from street and rain; running water (granted, it's cold and none too clean); and public access is blocked by a fence. So it came as no surprise that it actually is frequented by the down and out.
When we arrived, the ledge in the photo above was so covered with bottles, napkins and other trash that the cement underneath wasn't visible. There was also a queen sized mattress.  The photo was taken after a few trash and recycling bags had been filled and dragged up to the street for pick-up. One of the recent inhabitants was (possibly still is) a woman and her children.
Farther downstream, a dam had formed by a couple of branches entangled with quilt, jacket, hose and a couple garbage bags full of items that had been intended for a charity shop. The bags had been taken from donation bins, rummaged through, and the remainder left in and along the creek. We spent what felt like forever untangling, unearthing and dragging the wet, muddy, HEAVY items out of the creek. Those are some of the things we pulled out above before we bagged them up. And guess what? My boots aren't water proof, so I was soaking in microorganism-infested creek water! Next year I'm bringing my own heavy-duty, long gloves and wellies. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and bags and some items were embedded too far in the silt to remove without tools, so a lot of trash stayed where it was. Developing public access to the creek could solve a lot of the problems along it.
Find of the day? A makeshift bong made of plastic bottles and electrical tape. Sadly, when the mayor announced prizes at the after-cleanup lunch for unusual and interesting finds, the bong didn't even receive a mention.
Miss Piggly Wiggly stayed home, because I didn't want to have to clean her up after the clean up. She's just here for Martina.