Below the photos of the deer is the post I wrote a couple nights ago (in bold). I wanted to add this paragraph. I went back to the trails yesterday planning to take some photos for this post and do a repeat cleanup of the area I clean just two weeks ago. I was feeling somewhat discouraged. More than a few people have asked me why bother. The trash is never ending. I respond with the “ we can throw the one starfish back in the ocean” type of reasoning or that I believe a little bit of change brings more change answer. So I trudged into the woods reminding myself that this can be done with a scowl or a smile. I bucked up and smiled. I walked along the trail from Thorncliffe expecting to see the hills covered in garbage but a huge section was spotless. Something had happened or someone(s) had happened. My smile became a look of bemusement. Not far along the trail I encountered 3 people with gloves and bags. I asked them if they had cleaned this up and they said they had. I thanked them for what must have been at least 6 hours or more work, judging on my past experience. I thanked them again and again. I must have sounded a little silly. They told me they lived in the apartments which seemed doubly wonderful to me. It felt like the battle had been joined. I moved on, deeper into the trails where I had been a couple weeks before and seen the worst of the trash. I began cleaning and filling bags of recycling. An hour or so in a runner called out, I came up and we chatted. After a bit, Stephen/Steven was heading onward but offered to carry two bags of recycling out to the parking lot. Awesome. Another runner, Peder, paused on his way, yelling out from the trail he was grabbing two more bags to carry out and then on his way back grabbed two more. Amazing. I grabbed 4 more garbage bags that been blown into the valley and filled those. I worked an hour past what I had planned, envigorated by the help. In all, 7 bags of garbage and 5 bags of recycling. As I was cleaning I had one more surprise:
The single track trails of Crothers Woods and the whole Don Valley are more than a secret space I hold dear to my heart. They are a refuge, a place to be whole, a place that is safe. I often worry about the trails, the spread of invasive plants like the dog choking vine is a real threat as well as the scary thought that someday soon ticks may be an unwelcomed visitor to these precious woods. I have spent hours pulling the vine from different spots and freeing tree and bushes choked to near death. Over the many years I have run the trails I have believed firmly in giving back to the forest. Regular trail clean ups and brush removal, like after Wednesday’s wicked winds are a part of being a steward. Spring is a challenge for garbage in the city and particularly so in the Don. The trees and plants are unfortunate collectors of blown discarded trash. Gravity sends crud from the surrounding neighbourhoods tumbling into to our watershed.
Pointing fingers and doing nothing is just complaining and doesn’t move anything forward. I have done five large clean ups this year already. My wife, Nancy and I spent a lot of time cleaning the top of Pottery Road where the road crests near the apartments and the DQ. We are happy to give back. I know many others who do the same.
The woods are failing. The trash is becoming insurmountable. The vast garbage shadows created by the apartments that back on to the part known as “ the Ridge”, between the Millwood bridge and the Thorncliffe access road are obscene. Beyond Thorncliffe heading towards the Overlea Bridge is equally disgusting. I have emailed the TRCA and am awaiting an answer. The owners and managers of these apartments have to be held accountable for this pollution as well as the residents who are throwing their trash without thought or care to the effect it has. Of course this can not be every resident or perhaps even most but the number of plastic bags, plastic water bottles, plastic containers, plastic plastics and more plastics is not the careless product of just a few hands. The effort to collect and then carry out by hand is quite hard. I have carried out 14 bags over the past 2 weeks. We can do so much better. We owe this to our city and ourselves. I am not writing this to whine, I will continue to collect and clean. I am not writing to this raise awareness, we know the effects of litter and the damage we do to our ecosystems. We can do better by doing better. P.S. whoever picks up their dog poop and then throws the bag on the trails is a complete knucklehead, just saying.
So, yes my post above is somewhat pessimistic and angry. I now add many thanks to a whole bunch of people and I realize I should be more hopeful. Here are a couple more photos of the work ahead.