Yesterday I was walking through a local park. I was surprised to see an elderly lady, hunched over, slowly pushing her walker through the long grasses that mark the border between the irrigated and mowed parts of the park, and the adjoining “wilderness” sections. Every few steps she would bend down and pick up a couple of twigs that had fallen from the trees, adding them to the pile in her walker’s basket.
Curious, I walked over and asked her why she was collecting sticks. She told me, “You know, as a resident of this town, I own a bit of this park, and so do you! So I’m just doing my part to keep it tidy. I come here regularly and pick up sticks and bits of garbage and pile them under that weeping willow tree over there. Then the park workers come and take it away.” As I told her, I do pick up garbage and put it in the garbage barrels. But it hadn’t occured to me to pick up twigs, pine cones, and other natural wind-fall.
I couldn’t help thinking about it even after I left the park. About how we, as residents, DO have responsibility for the care of our community, beyond just paying our taxes, and tidying up our own yards. But also wondering about “cleaning up” after Mother Nature herself in areas that we’ve set aside as natural green spaces. I love the “wildness” of these areas (and am happy to clean any garbage out of them), but wonder how far we should go in “tidying” them. My feeling is to leave them as natural as possible. The only reason I can think of for tidying them up, so to speak, is to clear out materials that cause fire hazards, such as deep piles of dry pine needles.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your opinions about this in the comments below.
By the way, awhile back I featured a local green area that had a new path through it for the enjoyment of local residents. You can see the snapshots I took in the post “Unexpected Trails.” A couple days ago, I decided to go back to the spot – and was surprised to see that a tall chain-link fence had been erected between the pathway and the wild area. I’m not sure of the reason – no doubt someone thinks it is “progress.” Take a look at these new snapshots and tell me what you think of this “development.”