An invigorating, infuriating freakin’ walk

It was the eminent Greek physician Hippocrates (c. 460 – c. 370 BC) who eloquently said, “Walking is man’s best medicine.”

I agree.

Around here the last piles of winter snow have disappeared. Birds are chirping, plants are sprouting, and hours of daylight are increasing. Going for a walk on a sunny, 50-degree April day is like being reborn.

Maybe the best thing about walking at this time of year is all that’s visible. Naked forests hide little, and since few trees will become fully leafed for another several weeks, rural streets, lanes, and paths take on a whole new look when viewed by even moderately observant strollers. Spring walks reveal things that will be invisible a month from now. Old buildings located deep in the woods which go unseen during the summer come into clear view in late April, as do small animals, blossoming vegetation, and babbling brooks.

Unfortunately, there’s a downside to spring walks as well, an all-too-common sight that reveals a troubling slothfulness, narcissism, and disregard for their surroundings on the part of a small but odious portion of the population.

Freakin’ litter.

On a beautiful Saturday morning not long ago I strode down to the post office to mail a pair of packages, lugging them there in a cloth shopping bag, since that was more convenient than carrying one under each arm for a trek of just over a mile. Once that errand was completed I tucked my now-empty bag into a jacket pocket and continued down Main Street.

Shortly after passing the library I spied a discarded bottle, one which had once contained sixteen ounces of imported beer. Feeling public-spirited, I grabbed it and deposited it into the cloth bag I extracted from my pocket.

Perhaps 50 yards later I picked up two more discarded cans. Less than a half- mile further my bag was filled to the brim with bottles, cans, and similar freakin’ rubbish.

Filling a bag with trash in under a mile of walking was disheartening. Even more discouraging: I could have filled four or five more bags with the bottles, cans, and fast food detritus I didn’t pick up. And since I had only walked on the left side of the road, it’s reasonable to assume a similar amount of refuse had been tossed onto the other side, although since I didn’t feel like dodging traffic going by at 45 MPH, I don’t know that for sure.

What exactly is gained by heedlessly scattering debris? I’ve never met any pro- littering advocates. The reason, I suspect: most decent human beings recognize the random strewing of trash for what it is: an act of laziness, selfishness, and freakin’ disrespect..

There are allegedly penalties for this inexcusable offense, but has anyone ever paid a fine for littering? Really; who waits for a law enforcement officer to drive by before tossing the cup containing the remainder of their Big Gulp out the window?

There are currently numerous complex issues facing America and the world for which no easy solutions exist, including immigration, the environment, the economy, education, affordable housing, corruption, human trafficking, cybersecurity, arms control, global health, corporate greed, sourcing affordable energy, and food insecurity, just to name a baker’s dozen.

But solving the littering problem is easy. All it requires is having each individual properly pick up after him, her, or their self.

Hippocrates was right; walking is the best medicine. But effective medicine is needed now more than ever, because given the state of Earth’s perpetually- deteriorating environment, littering (of all kinds) is arguably one of mankind’s deadliest poisons.

Oh, and one more thing.

Happy freakin’ Earth Day.

Andy Young
April 19, 2024

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