Littered with Beauty

Since the Arctic Vortex headed back up to Tuktoyaktuk for refueling this weekend, I decided to skip the gym and head outside for some exercise in the fresh, wet air. I didn’t exactly go for a walk, and it wasn’t quite a jog, either. It was more of a “wog,” just fast enough to break a sweat, but slow enough to observe the stark, mid-winter beauty of Fairfield County.

I brought along my iPhone in case there was something worth capturing. For what it’s worth, every picture you see here was taken without any primping, posing, or special effects. Just what I discovered in situ while I wogged.

An observation, and expression of gratitude: there’s no question we’re blessed—turbo-blessed—to be able to live on one of the loveliest corners of this green earth. Westport and Fairfield, Connecticut have genuinely fair fields, plus lazy, rolling hills, old-growth forests, New England onion farms, wetlands, a gorgeous but gentle saltwater coastline, Revolutionary and Civil War-era homes, and tumbledown stone walls everywhere you look:

But for all its bucolic charm, the area’s not the sticks. It’s also convenient to culture and some excellent shopping. Westport boasts a Trader Joe’s

And just down the road in Norwalk, you’ll find Stew Leonard’s, the “World’s Largest Dairy Store.”

For the most part, it’s a pretty wholesome, healthy, clean-living place. People work hard so they can afford the pricey real estate (and great schools). But they don’t just take care of their homes and kids and cars. They like their bodies to be in top shape—inside and out.

Here in Westport, we love our coffee. Oh, do we love our coffee. Dunkins…Starbucks…Green Mountain Coffee Roasters…even a local favorite, Gaerlick & Herbs. Between the iPhones and Mocha Lattes, it’s a miracle anyone has a hand for a steering wheel.

With all that joe, it’s also no wonder that we’ve become “the land of a thousand bathroom renovations.” Hey, a guy’s gotta pee sometime!

Of course, it’s not Mayberry or Whoville here. We still have teenagers who get into occasional trouble, sneaking a couple of their parents’ beers…

Okay, well, sometimes maybe more than a couple.

And now and then, against the sage advice of their parents and health classes at Staples, I’m sure they smoke a cig or two, too.

“Quick…your Mom’s coming! Gimme a piece of gum!”

But for the most part, it’s pretty darn idyllic.

In some quarters, there’s been grumbling about the “teardownification” of Westport. People razing perfectly good seventies ranches to put up cedar-shingled land-arks, and then fencing or walling themselves (and their seven bedrooms) off from the rest of the dirty, busy world.

But still, the world encroaches.

I “wogged” for about an hour, shambling down Long Lots, and then Hulls Farm Road, and then this:

Every time I turn the corner onto Morehouse Lane, I feel like I’m walking into the pages of Charlotte’s Web. Or a little slice of Vermont.

At the end of the road is a heartbreakingly beautiful farm, with a couple of horses (Belgians or Clydesdales?), some muddy sheep, and one or two of these:

You know, sometimes it’s really hard to tell which side of the fence the pigs are on.

So why do people litter? According to Keep America Beautiful:

“Along roadways, motorists (52%) and pedestrians (23%) are the biggest contributors to litter. Research also shows that individuals under 30 are more likely to litter than those who are older. In fact, age, and not gender, is a significant predictor of littering behavior.

Why do people litter? Here’s what KAB’s 2009 Littering Behavior in America research found:

• Personal choice. Individual behavior—or choosing to litter—means litter on the ground. Nearly one in five, or 17% of all disposals observed in public spaces were littering, while 83% disposed of litter properly. And 81% of littering was intentional, e.g., flicking, flinging, or dropping. On
the other hand, individuals who hold the belief that littering is wrong, and consequently feel a personal obligation not to litter, are less likely to do so.

• Litter begets litter. Individuals are much more likely to litter into a littered environment. And once there, it attracts more litter. By contrast, a clean community discourages littering and improves overall community quality of life. Availability and proximity to trash and recycling
receptacles also impact whether someone chooses to litter.

• “It’s not my responsibility. “Some people feel no sense of ownership for parks, walkways, beaches, and other public spaces. They believe someone else will pick up after them; that it’s not their responsibility.

FWIW, I’m not just writing about this. I routinely “pick up” a few hundred yards of Long Lots Road, on both sides. Tomorrow looks like a two-bag day.

4 responses to “Littered with Beauty”

  1. Ugh. Nothing gets on my nerves more than litter. As the snow melts, it unfortunately reveals a lack of human responsibility.

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