I'm back in the park again. There is so much to see. The understory has grown in again and the larger trees are beginning to leaf. Many species are flowering, in particular, the dogwoods with their delicate white flowers. If you go early as I do, there are birds to see everywhere.Today, I spotted a red headed woodpecker hunting for food. The air smells clean and fresh. While the nights are still chilly, the homeless, the drug users and the drinkers have not been around in great numbers. That makes my job a lot easier. Today, I walked the orange trail around the south eastern corner of the park then followed the blue trail till it linked again with the orange trail near the bridal path that starts under the Jackie Robinson Parkway. I estimate that the whole walk was a little over an hour. I carried with me three plastic super market bags, stopping to fill them with trash where I found it, mostly discarded water containers, plastic bags and other assorted garbage. I managed to fill all three bags to overflowing. This may seem like a lot to you; it actually isn't. While the three groups I mentioned earlier stay out of the park, or at least don't use it in greater numbers, most of the trash is either left over from the winter or discarded by absent minded people who don't reflect on the consequences of their littering. I left very little of what I saw behind and was able to use just three plastic bags . I call that a good day.
While I've been away from my "trash patrol", I haven't been idle. I'm involved now with a number of citizens from the neighborhood of Kew Gardens brought together by a good friend, Mandy Gor the manager of TD Bank on Metropolitan Avenue in Kew Gardens. They are interested in contributing to the park and working with the Forest Park Trust to promote the park and see if the membership of the Trust can't be extended. I have my own agenda, but I commend their efforts to help. I have agreed to help them develop a questionnaire to see what people who use the park would like to see done in terms of improvements.
I've been talking to people I meet in the park too. Just today, I met two gentlemen walking their dogs and asked them If they thought the park looked any cleaner. I'm glad to report they said yes. One of the men actually asked how he might contribute to the efforts of the few volunteers who try to keep Forest Park clean. I told them that the volunteer program was currently being reexamined by the administration of the park, but that Josephine Scalia was the person to contact if they wished to help out in the woods. Of course, it takes nothing to carry along a plastic bag and just start cleaning as you walk. That's how I started. Here's another idea. If you read this and get the idea you might like to join forces, send me an email and I will announce here on the blog when we might meet for a "clean up day". If I hear from more than say three people, I will call Josephine and set up the necessary permissions, etc. My email address can't be displayed on the blog, but if you leave a comment or look at my profile, you will be able to find me.
Lastly, in the spirit of Earth Day, I would like to remind people not to litter. Many of us can probably remember back to a time they might not have been as conscious as many of us are today about it. I know myself as a teenager, I drank beer in the woods. I honestly don't remember if I carried the cans to a disposal. I smoked cigarettes too and while I was raised not to litter, I wonder how many of the cellophane tops of cigarette packs I just let fly. Everyone can probably share the guilt. It's time to make it up to Mother Earth. Just like Earl, we need to make up in good karma what we and the rest of us humans did to pile up the bad karma. Don't make Mother mad!