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Charlotte doesn’t pass my ‘plastic bag’ test…

Today’s post/rant won’t be for anyone sensitive to criticism of my adopted home base of Charlotte, North Carolina.

I spent a recent long weekend in St. Paul, Minnesota. As is my habit, I rose early each weekend morning to check out the Grand/Snelling/Summit Ave. areas on foot. These thoroughfares are major arterials through the city. Significant streets branch off these main roads. If things went according to plan, my path each a.m. would be roughly in the 5 mile range (about an hour and 45 minutes at a modest clip). As you can guess, it wasn’t long before I wished I had plastic bag along for the trek.

Mind you, these were my first jaunts in months along these foreign streets. But I’ve been impressed with how Minnesotans treat their environment in general and there was no reason to think otherwise as I walked these busy streets. (Indeed, Charlotte city leaders spent time earlier this year in nearby Minneapolis to see what made this incredible urban area tick.)

I wasn’t long into the walk before seeing the first tangible vestige of the esteem Minnesotans place on their environment.

There is is, clear as day: keep your drains clear of debris - including trash. But of course, the way North Carolina has deemphasized education and slashed public school funding, perhaps not as many of us can read down this way.

There is is, clear as day: keep your drains clear of debris – including trash. But of course, the way North Carolina has deemphasized education and slashed public school funding, perhaps not as many of us can read down this way.

Spray painted adjacent to storm drains were a few words of encouragement to make sure citizens knew to keep the drains clear – because the next stop for whatever got by these rainwater portals was destined for the Mississippi River. It was impressive to see even this small, civil touch. (I’ll bet St. Paul would share the stencil if we asked nice enough.)

Of course, not every knucklehead up North is in tune with such thinking. Before long the first plastic bottles and other discards began to show up. About this time, I was hoofing it past Kowalski’s, a local market. At 6:30 in the morning they were only too glad to part with a plastic bag and off I went, scooping up recyclables as I went.

But not many things. That was the marked difference between St. Paul and Charlotte. In the roughly 5 miles I walked on Saturday morning, there was barely enough to fill one bag. Granted, that’s still too much junk – but that’s in stark contrast what I collect every single stinking day along the same 2.5 mile path I trod in Charlotte. Every damn day, it’s another bag full. Sunday and Monday along variations of the Snelling-Grand-Summit route yielded about the same results – which was still far less than what I deal with in North Carolina.

So Charlotte doesn’t pass my plastic bag test. We’re just not as attuned/attentive to our environment.

A nice 10 inch brown trout fell for Tim's fly. It takes clean water for these fish to live - folks in the Carolinas don't quite hold their waters in the same esteem.

A nice 10 inch brown trout fell for Tim’s fly. It takes clean water for these fish to live – folks in the Carolinas don’t quite hold their waters in quite the same esteem.

Here’s the real kicker: Not 25 miles from my daughter’s door, my son-in-law, Tim, made beautiful cast after beautiful cast with a two wt. fly rod on a gorgeous stretch of trout water. He hauled in decent size brownies. Notable to these fish is that they demand clean water to survive – and that’s what Minnesotans give these fabulous creatures. Too bad we don’t do the same down South.

About Dave Bradley (264 Articles)
I was a writer by trade so one would think letters would come easily for me. It is so now, but wasn't always that way. Indeed, the first letter was written the Monday after Ellen started her freshman year in college. For years I've wondered - with no good answers - why I swiveled my office chair toward my computer screen to fire up a word processing document for that first letter. I just don't know. I just did. Perhaps it was the angst of separation or wanting to say things that had gone unsaid at that moment when we parted ways in front of her college dormitory. What was a one-off became habitual. When her brother Reid enrolled in the same college, his name was added to the salutation line. They were kids then and are adults now. No matter. The letter writing habit remains so today. I live in Brevard, North Carolina. I'm well away from where they live and don't see them nearly as often as I'd like. That's why letters, at least to me, fill the void of distance. The pages give me something to say and the space to say it. There is no assurance they read the letters; indeed, I have never asked if they do so. With the pace of their busy lives who could blame them for letting a letter sit unopened? Over time, it has dawned on me that the letters are both communicative - and cathartic. By nature, letters are about the writer; the writer can only write about their situation. Perhaps that is as it should be. It's all about the here and now from one person's perspective.

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