Monday, October 25, 2010

Rock Creek Park

This park is a city park in the heart of Washington DC. Our son Dan's former place of employment, Environmental Law Institute, had organized a group to help pick up trash in a portion of Rock Creek Park, so John and I volunteered to help with the clean-up. We did not even give it a thought that we would be caught in a traffic jam coming into the city on a cool fall morning, but that did happen and we  arrived at our destination an hour late. The city streets were fairly navigable once we passed the Mall area around the capitol. We spent two hours clearing a section of the park of trash, and our group filled about 22 bags of the stuff. I thought we would be just picking up small scraps of paper, in fact I was given a tool for that purpose, but once I peered into the underbrush, I soon tossed that implement aside and started pulling out beer bottles and soda cans. It was not long before I was also adding wine and whiskey bottles to my collection of refuse. And we could open a hardware store with what we found in that department!  Dan found what he called the "quintessential lead pipe". There were also parts which came from bikes, a broken hammer and a cracked pail. What stories they could tell if they were able to!  I puzzled a lot about the nice padded stroller we found; except for being dirty, it was in good condition. Who threw that away and why?  Another puzzlement to me was the empty bottles of beer placed back in their original cardboard container, and into a plastic bag. If a person goes through all that trouble, why not go a step further and put it in a trash barrel?  We also found many discarded items of clothing, as well as boots and shoes. Hey, if it gets too hot, or if it stops raining, just toss off your clothes and boots. It is fairly easy to find another set of clothes and shoes. Sadly, I imagined, such is the life of the homeless. They do not have the luxury of a car and home, the keys of which some unfortunate jogger dropped in the brush, and which we found among the trash. The people on the sidewalk walking pass where I was working were interesting too. Most of them acted like it was not unusual to see an old lady plunging out of the woods with trash in her hands and smelling like she had spilled a few beers over herself ( I had somehow managed to pour some beer down my leg when I picked up what I thought was an empty bottle). One person did stop and thank me for making the area look better. After hauling all of our bags to the nearest trash barrel, John and I headed out to do some sight-seeing in DC. Dan wanted to show us the building where he is presently employed, the Environmental Protection Agency. It is located in the old post office building. What an impressive old structure! A statue of Ben Franklin stands in front of it. I think he founded the concept of a national postal service.
 It was interesting walking around that whole section of the city. We passed by the Justice Department, also the FBI and IRS buildings. Also in that area is the Archives building as well as the national museum of natural history.

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