Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Clean City: Sleuthing-Litter Detective story

Litter Picking is an All Season Sport.

Sleuthing Litter Detective Story

I found the trail littered with evidence activating a desire within me to help solve the not so victim-less crime. 

At first, the South Burlington, Vermont community neighborhood was quiet with only a few people walking on the sidewalk in the early morning as I was. The birds gave no indication of alarm as they continued chirping and singing. Two blue jays perched above, a cardinal and mourning doves pecking at the ground unaware of anything amiss. A rabbit froze still and watched me as I approached. Its ears straight up, its large eyes focused intently at the visitor on two legs carrying an empty plastic grocery bag.

The beauty of maples casting their branches out and over the road, birch white and elegant, pine sweet smelling, immense old oak offering the wisdom of patience and strong character, and the flowering crabapples with their low canopies providing a warm friendly scenic urban fare over the walkway, often bring a sense of comfort and serenity. Yet the freshly cut grasses, and the roses, and lilacs, and the flower beds of reds and yellows and purple, sometimes capture evidence of a vice, a broken trust creating a blemish.

As I walked amidst the comfort of nature within the city, the trail of evidence lay before me. I could have easily missed or ignored the first piece.

Nevertheless, like a blood trail, following the identical pieces of Trident chewing gum wrappers a few hundred feet apart gave increasing awareness of the crime pattern. A cigarette package in between the intermittent display of chewing gum wrappers shed light on the enigma.

The bagged evidence suggested the culprit was alternating between chewing gum and smoking; out for a walk fighting the nicotine demon only to in the end succumb to the litterbug demon. One can often piece together the story behind litter. The order a meal was consumed can often be determined by following fast food wrappers as first the fries box, than the hamburger wrapper, than the drink container litter the path. A single shoe, a key, a scattering of coins, unopened mail, and many other items leave a waiting story to tell on our city streets every day.

A few days later in nearly the same area where I had picked up the gum wrappers and cigarette package, I once again found a trail of Trident gum wrappers.

However, no cigarette package this time. Kicking the habit sometimes means less litter. Yet the trail is not yet cold for the sleuth who is intolerant of litter and the way litter defiles nature’s beauty.

Pick up a piece every day and discover a world of mysteries while helping to keep Vermont green and clean-litter free year round.

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