Cleaning the Forest

Wednesday — People

During the years that we owned a resort on a wilderness lake, our only neighbor was an elderly lady who owned many hundreds of acres of lakeshore, including a point that jutted out into the lake and was used by both fishermen and duck hunters as a place to stop for a shore lunch.

She didn’t mind them using her property and she never complained about the litter they left behind, which was considerable.

Every autumn just before the snow started to fly, she’d drag a few huge garbage bags and a rake through the forest to that point – quite a long walk for an elderly woman — and clean up after those thoughtless fishermen and hunters.

Perhaps they didn’t realize that trash accumulates even in the forest. Perhaps they didn’t think about an elderly woman making her way through the forest dragging their garbage behind her. Perhaps they didn’t care.

She could have posted a ‘no trespassing’ sign. But she didn’t. Instead she let them use her property and kept it clean herself. Every year, as long as she was physically able.

We never helped because we didn’t know what she was doing. Because she never told anyone. She just did it.

When we found out what she’d been doing all those years, she simply said she didn’t mind spending a day cleaning her property. It’s what homemakers do and the forest was her home.

I think the world could use more people with that philosophy.

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