Have you ever heard of anyone admitting willingly to dropping litter? No me neither. So where does it all come from? It can only be the Litter Faerie: small, wearing a grubby hoody, cargo style knee shorts and boots with the tongue pulled forward. Litter spews magically from the pouch on the hoody and is kicked into the undergrowth.
Yesterday evening as I ran up the lane to Wellsfoot there was a plastic drink bottle in the brambles. I pulled it out meaning to pick it up on my way back. It is only this evening as I run the lane again that I realise it had already gone. Collected no doubt by the Tidy Gnome: shambling, head hung forward, nondescript, easily missed and seldom remembered, carrying a plastic bag into which litter vanishes in defiance of the amount that could possibly be held by the bag.
The line between litter and ‘ooh, that could be useful’ is blurred and weaves its way amongst waterlogged mobile phones, snorkel masks, tennis balls, ruck sack rain covers, sweatshirts, ‘beach’ shelters, tents, sleeping bags, floatation vests, kayak paddles, towels, gloves and cameras. Almost certainly not all of these were littered, but once dropped, litter they undoubtedly became.
This evening’s find is spiralling in a eddy close under the bank of the river between Bell Pool and Sharrah. At a glance it looks like the slightly yellowed foam often seen on the river after a good flood. There has not been a flood and the shape is out of place, my feet stutter to a halt. I have found numerous yellow, plastic ducks, some in quite unlikely places and also a small dinosaur, but an 18 inch long crocodile, well that’s different.
The rule is simple; once you pick the item up it is your responsibility. It does not matter what it is, be it a bottle lid or an oil drum, once you pick it up you have to take ownership, if you drop it back down, that’s littering. Gerald as the crocodile has since been named was going to have to come with me. Besides the photographic potential was massive.
Sharrah was a little disappointing as the sun had just ducked behind the hill and consequently the faint breeze carried an unexpected edge so much so that it was warmer in the river than out. That said, not much warmer so after a few quick snaps* I’m heading back the way I came with Gerald safely tucked under my arm. Where exactly he came from I can only guess but it would not surprise me if he’d not made it all the way from Dartmeet, after all, who would wander about the woods with a large toy crocodile.
Oh, that would be me and what the people I passed made of it I can’t say.
* yes I really did write that.