Monday, May 20, 2019

A damper on a sunny day

By Beth Sullivan
Mother’s Day was forecast to be quite miserable, weather-wise, and it was. The Saturday before was a glorious day; so I declared my own personal Mother’s Day to do what I loved best; be outside and in the woods. However, I didn’t have my kids and grandkids with me, which would have made it perfect. Sometimes it’s nice to have an unplanned, dedicated fun day in the sun.
A pileated woodpecker family makes their home in these woods.

Star flower (Trientalis borealis) was a lovely surprise. 

It really didn’t work out that way

It started off well. Three of us decided to install the preserve sign for the Woodlot Sanctuary. It has been a long time coming. For some reason it has been impossible to find someone willing and able to help us create Avalonia’s well known brown and yellow preserve signs. One of our dedicated stewards did it the hard way, using hand router, not with a new, easy, computerized machine. It looks great but the labor is just way too intensive to keep up with our needs. So on this beautiful morning the fellows got to work digging the holes for the posts. They do not call this town Stonington without good reason. While they rearranged stones to create two properly aligned holes, I decided to walk off the trails a bit, explore some of the places I hadn’t yet investigated. That’s where part of the trouble started.
In some of the most beautiful spring wetlands, dappled with greens and violets and yellows, there was trash. Items of plastic must have washed down the stream during the heavy rains. Deep in the woods I found a pen, several empty cans, a Styrofoam cup, and a plastic bag. That got me started. I continued walking along the roadside, inside our wall at first, and was so disappointed to find a high volume of litter that had been chucked over the wall, likely from passing cars. There were some big old pieces: fuel containers, a big metal pail, and a big plastic contractors’ bucket. But mostly it was just stupid, senseless, discarded trash.
An entire dump in one spot. I can't imagine why?

The redbellied woodpeckers called from their nest hole. Photograph by Rick Newton.

The variety of waste would make a great sociology study.

Still some hope

Walking along the road in that area is a little challenging, because the road curves, there is no shoulder and sight lines are poor. But after grabbing a second trash bag from the truck, I continued along the roadside. Lots of alcohol bottles; big ones and many tiny nips. There were also beer cans, soda bottles, energy drinks, and water bottles. Then there was the plastic trash: bags, balloons, take out containers, and cups. Why can’t people just wait until they get home to ditch their leftovers? By the time I finished both sides of the wall, on one side of the street, I had filled two large garbage bags one of which leaked some kind of fluid all over my clothes. This was NOT what I had planned. I was so saddened by the thoughtlessness and laziness of people. It was depressing. One older man drove by and gave me a thumbs up and a thank you. There is hope.
By the time I got back to the parking lot, there were two perfect holes and a sign almost ready to be nailed together. The sun sparkled through the new spring green foliage. A pair of red-bellied woodpeckers chorused from their nest site by the parking area. We were serenaded by woodland warblers and a pileated woodpecker flew right by to hammer out his message on a big tree trunk.
The small seedlings planted by the Cub Scouts a couple of weeks ago have been well watered by all our rains. There really is so much beauty at this time of year, and I want to have faith that the majority of the people are well intentioned and caring.
I am not sure what is wrong with those few who insist on using our roadsides and wetlands as places to toss their trash.
The Woodlot Sanctuary finally has its sign. It welcomes visitors to come and enjoy a lovely walk in the woods. Enjoy this beautiful time of year. It ended up being a lovely pre-Mother’s Day in the sun.
Thanks to Rick for making the sign and working with Jim to install it.

The wetlands in the Woodlot Sanctuary should all be this pristine. 

Photographs by Beth Sullivan, unless otherwise indicated.

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