Today, as I was doing my litter walk around the block, I was deep in the bushes of a house at the corner of Rumsey and Millwood retrieving a plastic grocery bag, when I saw a woman coming towards me from her back yard. Embarrassed for ‘trespassing’ on her property, I apologized and we began a most interesting discussion.
She thanked me for picking up the bag and told me that she does her yard work on Mondays as that is her day off. Today’s job jar list was litter picking and leaf raking.
She explained that her yard litter blows in from Trace Manes Park, across the street. That seems a little unfair, but I suppose most of us would say that the litter we find on our property often arrives unbidden from someone we don’t see or know or it blows in from somewhere else, and we’re the ones who have to pick it up. (This includes you smokers who toss your butts as you hurriedly walk down the street. I will buy you a pocket ashtray at Dollarama if you write to me. And you dog owners who watch your dog poop and can somehow rationalize why you don’t scoop. I will buy you a roll of poop bags.)
Then the conversation turned to wet soggy leaves still littering the road in early December. Like us, she has no trees on her property and no shortage of leaves on her lawn and curbside. Recently she was speaking with a neighbour who proudly declared that he didn’t begin raking until every leaf had fallen from his tree. She responded that by the time the last leaf had fallen from his tree, most of his leaves had either blown into her yard or were washed down the street blocking the storm sewer grate in front of her house. In fact, during heavy downpours, she explained, the drain sometimes got so blocked that the curbside water rose up over the sidewalk and flooded her front yard. She showed me her handy dandy drain unblocking tool. Not only does she unblock the drain in front of her house, but she also unblocks the drain across the street! We laughed as I told her that on my litter walks, I simply kicked the leaves away with my feet. We discussed the fact that waiting until spring to clear the leaves was not a good option as they would be even wetter and soggier, making them difficult to bag and heavy for the yard waste pickup workers, and they would freeze and make snow shoveling and plowing difficult.
I never know whom I will meet on my litter walks or where the conversation will take me. What I learned today is that my action or inaction affects others in ways I don’t even see, both positively and negatively (yes, my husband rakes our curbside leaves). Good communication with each other is essential. And a good neighbour is a treasure.