Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Getting My Feet Under Me

Part of our daily school commute, I'm so lucky!
In spite of the fact that I still can't find my John Lennon calendar, this move has been perhaps the smoothest that a cross-country move mid-school-year with three school-aged children could be. Our new community has been incredibly welcoming and the town itself is the best-kept secret in the country. Although we froze our tuckuses (my 5-year-old's favorite new word) off in February and March the spring has been absolutely beautiful. Our walks to school take us through the city's largest park and along a pond and creek full of ducks and geese. The creek is crossed by a series of architecturally interesting and diverse bridges, some of them quite elaborate and all of them well-maintained. Many of the houses are historic -- dating back to the 1850's and earlier -- and the entire area is set off by mature trees, daffodils, and tulips.

Tiny ducks have hatched!
That's the up side.

The down side is particularly sad given the loving care that has been tended to the appearance of the houses, park, and historic downtown where we spend most of our time. The park is PACKED every weekend, and for a large part of each day; runners, walkers, toddlers and their caregivers. But the sides of the stream are littered with plastic bags, drink bottles, and random trash. There's even a discarded Big Wheels tricycle tangled in one of the trees at the water's edge. Cigarette butts litter the gutters along the road where smokers toss them out their windows as they drive. One of my to-do list items is to buy each of the children gardening gloves so they can help take on yard-cleaning duty from all the trash that blows into our bushes from the street.

I feel like I'm living in one of those great fraternity row houses in Athens, Georgia that look beautiful, and ought to be beautiful, but have been abused by residents who don't know how to care for such a treasure.

The sight of all this trash, of the thousands of plastic bags leaving the grocery and hardware stores each day, of the styrofoam take-out containers we're handed at restaurants, has made me disheartened. Now that we're away from Marin County and I am seeing more clearly what consumption looks like in our country, and I have to admit, it has brought me down. The effort to do better is going to be a lot harder than I was accustomed to when I was part of the Marin County Kumbaya Patrol.

So the challenge is to build a set of routines that bring the new culture and our family's values into harmony. In the meantime, the setting certainly provides incentive...