Greenup Day: There ought’a be a law…

I’m the kind of guy that when the stress of an office job overwhelms me and the going gets rough I look longingly at physical work, like stacking a couple of hundred cords of wood, raking up all the leaves in Lamoille County, or clear cutting Mt Elmore. . .a task where one can see clear evidence of accomplishment.

This is why I am so upset about Vermont’s Green-up day. People cheated. I saw them all the time, days before Green-up Day started. They were skulking along road shoulders with garbage bags picking up bottles, cans and the dross that blows out of the back of pickup trucks or mucking around in nearby fields and woods searching for wind-blown garbage like chickens scrabbling in the underbrush. And that’s not fair.

I have to work for a living so when the first Saturday in May finally arrived and my wife and I set out with our garbage bags, Vermont was already green. There was no garbage left. We wandered the roads in Hinesburg looking for garbage but it was gone. We showed up at the Town picnic afterwards sheepish and empty-handed. We had to ask for a hot dog. You’re supposed to at least look like you had a productive morning. Next year we may have to bring our own bag of garbage – or our own hot dog.

I staked out a well-littered back road out of the way of local do-gooders as soon as the snow melted but by the time I went back on Green up Day, it had been picked clean of winter debris.

Now I find myself dreaming of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway or the Long Island Expressway which are both a green-up maven’s paradise. Litter exceeds green space and traffic combined.

I’ve been so upset that I’ve even inquired about New York’s Adopt-a-Highway Program figuring I might adopt a couple dozen miles somewhere near the city and pick some serious litter, only to find out that the program only makes you pay to have someone else do it – so they get all the satisfaction. You don’t actually get to pick up the litter, which of course is the whole point, the part that gives one a sense of having really accomplished something, restoring some form of natural beauty to a ravaged landscape.

I think that the legislature should add a really important statute to their list of other really important statutes – like the one that makes it illegal to litter. Nobody, no matter how neurotic, should be allowed to collect litter before 8 AM on the first Saturday in May.

Given all the problems the legislature faces, you may think this is trivial, but how will Vermont maintain a spirit of community if selfish individuals are allowed to have all the fun.

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