Not so long ago I used to get annoyed—if not downright angry—when I found litter in nature. What irked me most was trash strewn on the shorelines I walked or paddled. I knew that trash in the oceans can end up in the stomachs of shorebirds, marine mammals and other creatures, and kill them.
The annoyance I used to feel has been transformed. Now, instead of getting upset by litter, I just pick it up.
These days, I feel a rush of delight in finding—and picking up trash. My feeling is like to the joy I felt as a kid on Easter Sunday morning when I picked up Easter eggs and dropped them into my basket.
These feelings of delight multiply when I pick up trash in the company of like-minded paddlers.
Today Richard James, aka the Coastodian, joined forces to pick up the trash on the beach immediately north of the mouth of the Russian River, our way to celebrate the last of of 2015.
Richard and I met at Jenner this cold 37ºF morning. We paddled to the mouth of the Russian River, and picked up trash. I thought we might stay on this task for ten minutes or so. Ah, but Richard is dedicated to cleaning up. We kept at it almost two hours. We collected more than 50 tennis balls, almost enough tires for a car, and a shoe store of lost footwear. (You can visit his blog to see just how much stuff we picked up.)
When I realized that Richard might keep picking up litter longer, I started to worry about our boats. The tide was rising and we had not hauled our kayaks far enough out of the water.
My worries about our boats were prescient. When we returned to the beach where we had left our boats, we saw that they were adrift. But, no worries, my friend and fellow estuary-lover, Bob, was there to bring our boats back to us. He saved us a swim with the seals out to our boats.
We talked with Bob for a while—three paddlers, three bloggers—about the pleasures of being out in the natural world and learning its ways. It was a pleasant day.
Among the things Richard and I found was the carcass of a 2′ steelhead which we put out for the scavengers. Seagulls were the first to partake of this delicacy, but before long a contingent of ever-patient and ever-dignified turkey vultures flew in to wait their turn at the feast.
They perched and seemed to pose for my camera.
I have growing admiration for these quiet birds.
High tide occurred today at about 2:30. Richard and I paddled among the harbor seals past the mouth of the river and down the southern shore of Penny Island. When we reached its eastern end we pulled our boats out of the water and shared a lunch in the mid afternoon sun. In what seemed no time at all, the sun dropped behind the hills west of us. Chilled, we headed back to the launch ramp.
As I got my boat on my car, Richard made an arrangement of the trash we turned into treasure. I got this photo as he was putting his display together. Again, to see his better presentation of our finds, visit Richard’s blog, COASTODIAN.
It was a fine way to mark the end of 2015 and set the tone for 2016.