Spring Cleaning.

“Please repair your own divot and one other.”

If you play golf, you’re probably familiar with this particular etiquette of the greens.

It refers to getting your little divot repair tool and fixing the mark your ball made on the green, leaving it as if you had no impact there at all. While you repair your own mark, you also repair that of someone who played before you.

This morning I ran 10 flights of outdoor, wooden stairs. An invigorating start to my day. As I ran, I noted the various pieces of trash either dropped by a pedestrian who had the energy to walk the stairs but not get to the garbage bin 20 feet from the staircase, or blown under the stairs by our signature chinook winds.

I picked up the trash on my 10th flight and dropped it all in the bin before heading home.

It’s a practice I’ve observed for a few years now, while walking my kids to school, hanging out at a playground or hiking trails, I pluck the odd pieces of trash and pop them in the bins or my pocket until I can find a garbage.

Last spring a walk around my favourite community pond and place of personal meditation inspired me. Well, more honestly, ignited me. I got annoyed with the locals. From where I stood on the path I saw strange, colourful balls floating near the opposite bank. When I got to that side of the pond, I leaned over the bank for a closer look. Tennis balls, ball hockey balls, rubber balls, plastic balls…great gobs of dog fetch balls!

As I quickly counted up over 20 balls within reach, other debris caught my eye: construction materials, plastic bags, pop cans, water bottles, lids, even a paint brush (seems a bit heavy for even the wind to carry)…the list goes on. After muttering some choice words for my fellow neighbours, I decided to return later that week with a few tools and a mission.

With a large garbage bag and a long rake I dredged the edge of the pond, retrieving as much trash as I could reach. I took my son to help. He ran around the pond’s path. And my husband. He took pictures of my butt while I scooped. Ok, well a cheering section is always helpful.

It was my mission, one I did not do for the community but for the pond, the wildlife I enjoy on my walks and the nature that surrounds and supports me. For the trees who listen to me rant on a tough day, chant on a beautiful one and create shade for spontaneous summer yoga. For the muskrats who play hide and seek with the ducks and provide endless entertainment on a cloudy day. For the sandhill cranes who show me grace and stillness, the coyotes who sit as silent company (at their own safe distance) and for the red-winged blackbirds who share their song as they poise themselves on the swaying reeds. I cleaned the pond for them and for me.

I think of this outdoor etiquette much like that of golf; if everyone picked up their own trash and someone else’s, you would not see the marks that we or those before us left behind, only pristine greens.

A little Earth etiquette to keep our planet clean and our members happy.

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