Ezra picked up a plastic bottle from the grass, tire-crushed litter blown in from the road. “I hate this … People trashing everything. Like, what do they think is sacred? The earth or the inside of their cars?” Ghost Sickness, Mae Martin Mysteries book five
On Thanksgiving Day, I saw a post on the T or C Litter Pickers Facebook page from a man who said was he passing through and had collected twenty bags of litter on the road between Truth or Consequences and Elephant Butte. He wondered who he should call to collect it. Our members let him know there was no one to call, but several of us drove out and picked up the bags.
For the entire holiday weekend, our roadside angel kept cleaning. He posted that he was camping in his van and had no room to transport trash in it. We kept finding and collecting more bags.
The scenery on the steep, two-mile hill he adopted is subtle but beautiful. An expanse of brown desert with cacti and thorny shrubs, a small reedy pond where migratory waterfowl spend the winter, and a view of mountains in the distance. At night, it’s a place of stars, with no streetlights and little traffic. To some folks, though, it’s a convenient place to toss cans, cups, bottles, plastic bags, straws, foam shell food containers, and other junk they can’t tolerate keeping in their cars until they get where they’re going.
The roadside angel filled over thirty bags of litter. A couple of days into his project, one of our Litter Pickers members finally met him. The angel is a visitor from South Africa. I’m in awe of him. How many tourists leave a place better than when they first arrived? Does he travel the world, being kind to each patch of earth where he stops to camp? Or did he feel some special pity for our abused roadside land, for the snow geese and ducks and pelicans who visit the pond?
Such kindness to the earth can change how we see it. Stopping near the pond to put some of the last few bags into the trunk of my Fiesta, I had a moment of closeness to the silver-blue water, the rusty-colored plants poking up from it, and the ducks gliding on its surface. I’ve often wanted to stop and contemplate the pond, but I’ve been On My Way Somewhere. This time, I slowed down. In gratitude to the angel.