Opinion Columns & Blogs

Creek Day hauls in a lot of detritus

Here’s what I want to know: How did the cane get up in the tree? Did someone mug Dr. House, snatch it from his hand as he was defending himself, and hurl it skyward?

It’s a puzzlement.

So is this: A plate setting and table sign from Novo restaurant, right there in the creek bed. Was someone taking outdoor dining to an extreme?

I am speaking of course of the detritus gathered during the county’s 15th annual Creek Day a few weeks back.

As they have in years past, volunteers — an estimated 400 — slogged through the county’s waterways looking for trash. They included people from elementary schools to Cal Poly, as well as an alphabet soup of community groups and just plain folks.

In the end, said Wende David, development director at The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County, the creek-scouring crews harvested 24,000 gallons of trash.

That, David said, is enough to overflow a 6-foot swimming pool that is 25 feet long and 20 feet wide. Volunteers collected an additional 3,300 gallons of recyclable containers and sent them for processing.

All in all, it was not a bad morning’s work.

David and the Land Conservancy see this as a combination health prevention, education and aesthetics project.

Not only did cleanup crews remove “unsightly and unhealthy” trash, they did it before winter rains could wash it into the ocean, David wrote in a news release.

“Trash pollution threatens wildlife, harms the environment and impacts our local economy,” she wrote. “Plus trash looks gross and is unpleasant to be around.”

Amen to all that, and applause for those who waded through this stuff.

For people in certain professions, like column writing, the truly fascinating part of the annual cleanup is the list of discarded junk. David provided a spread sheet and, as usual, it was alternately predictable and mystifying.

Predictable: fast-food wrappers, beverage containers, chip bags, paper cups, more than 100 tires, shopping carts, washing machines, oil containers, old cars, and nearly five pounds of cigarette butts.

Mystifying: The aforementioned “cane in a tree” (sounds like a Caribbean drink, doesn’t it, something with rum that would knock you on your keister).

Up in Paso Robles, crews found a guitar, a mattress and loaded shotgun shells — not in the same place, I’m guessing; those things just don’t go together.

A Cal Poly volunteer found a passport. This is not the sort of thing you want to lose, but not to worry, the person who found it knew the passport’s owner.

And what’s with the Novo plate setting?

Maybe someone stopped in the middle of their creekside home improvement project to take some nourishment. My fellow bloviator Bill Morem, perusing the list, noted that you could furnish a home with the refuse found in our creeks: couches, washing machine, dryer, carpet roll, and a cable spool, the kind many of us hippies emeritus used for tables back in the day.

There was also an unclassifiable assortment of other oddments: lifting weights, a comforter, two bicycles, and, for those who need some recreation after arranging furniture, a paint ball field including stakes and markers.

There were even some useful things: a shovel and pallets.

Well, anyway, that’s it for this year’s haul. Again, hats off to those who got down and dirty sifting the junk in the gunk.

Has anyone seen Morem, by the way? The last time I spotted him he was heading toward the collection site in a pickup truck