By Cynthia Brownell
What does it mean to be stewards of the land? Growing up in the 1970’s it wasn’t uncommon to drive down any road and see a ton of garbage and empty bottles. I also remember the commercial of the native American looking at the garbage with a single tear running down his face. That image had an impact on my young mind. Upstate New York has come a long way since the 1970’s in controlling the garbage and picking up after the long winter.
Yet it still amazes me when I do see garbage on the side the road, especially our dirt road. Our house is hidden in the woods and isn’t exactly visible. If you took a random turn onto the dirt road you would almost think it was seasonal. You wouldn’t believe the things we have found on the side of our road. Here is a brief list:
- Dirty cat litter. Yes, you got that right. For one full summer, we had a mysterious cat litter dumper. It was like they took their litter box out of there house, drove down our road and then dumped it on the side. Whew! Gross! Last summer we didn’t see the mysterious litter at all. It made me wonder if they were finally caught.
- Deer carcasses. At the end of our road is a state park. It has road access and several times we have walked our dog on the roads. One section this year was loaded with ten to fifteen deer carcasses. It looked like a massacre. Now don’t get me wrong. I grew up on venison and hunting is a natural way of life for us. This was beyond hunting. The hunters took the best part of the deer and let the rest lay around and rot. We contacted the D.E.C. and State Police to let them know what we found.
- Of course, trash. V’s, carpeting, weird strange mechanical things just randomly appear. One day we even found a pair of pants hanging in a tree on the side of the road. ?? One day my son and I saw a fresh bag of trash on the side of the road. The next day the animals and wind had gotten into the bag. It was strewn all over the woods. We walked into the mess and found an address. Yes! We went to the local sheriff and handed him what we had found and told them the location of the trash. That weekend amazingly enough someone was in the woods picking up the trash.
- The strangest thing we have seen on the side of the road was just a random person. No, they weren’t deceased. Thank God! But he was obviously not right and we weren’t sure why. It looked like he was either on drugs or having a mental health issue. This was before we moved to our property and my husband was driving over to hunt on the property. He said the young man was sitting in the woods on stump in the middle of a cold fall day without a coat and he was smoking a cigarette. He stopped to see if the guy was ok. When my husband addressed him he just looked straight ahead without responding. Off course not sure what to do my husband rolled up the window to the truck and drove on. When he was driving back he noticed the kid was gone.
Since we have moved onto our property full time, the instances of “dumping” are becoming farther and fewer between. We have a good group of neighbors, some are seasonal and some are year-round. The strangest thing I recently saw, a very large black bear crossing the road. Now that is something!