I should have stuck to the main road, where I could have easily cleaned up a big stretch from our house to a couple of camps near the government wharf. Along the main road the trash is just whatever the ATVers have thrown off as they go whizzing by in summer: beer cans, plastic pop bottles and paper wrappers. There really isn't very much of it; it would have been light work, and I would have had a sense of accomplishment at the end.
But instead I left the road at the place where the creek tumbles into Indian Cove and set off along the shore, walking north toward the government wharf. It isn't individuals who litter here, but rather the vast traffic of the sea. You can't really finger any culprits. It's just flotsam and jetsam, the ebb and flow of cumulative trash created by all the world-wide container ships and fishing boats and cruise liners. Saint Paul would call it the powers and the principalities. It's abstract, anonymous, systemic and unaccountable. It has come to be; and now it just is.
Mostly I went for the plastic wrappers and bags, thinking about that vast sea of tangled plastic bags said to be floating somewhere down near Australia. But I picked up the other stuff too, if I could fit it in. And soon enough I found myself lugging a huge heavy sack, like Santa Claus but not in a good way. Now what? My fun little excursion had turned into a big project. I hadn't planned to tackle the powers and principalities today.
I lugged my bag along the rocks, stopping frequently to rest it, until I got to the camps. I pulled it to the road and thought I would leave it there and come back later with the ATV to pick it up. But two huge spruce trees were down over the road. I crawled beneath them and pushed and dragged the bag as well. I lugged it as far as the still-frozen pond and left it there.
Today I will bring it the rest of the way home. Then I'll need to take it down to Chopper and eventually to the municipal recycling dumpster in town. And all that for about two hundred metres of shore line. There must be a better way to clean up an island.
In the meantime I had left my burden at the water and so felt as light as a sinner redeemed. I walked home along the main road, admiring the sunlight, newly freed. The shore line is still littered with the sins of the world but it's not entirely within my power to restore it to its original state.