5:01 a.m. The world sleeps and I’m heading out the door. I have to get a life. Seriously.
The breeze is abnormally up for this time of day and the air is moist and warm. American flags are out in numbers on front porches and miniature versions escort me along a 70 yard stretch of sidewalk across the street from the South Hill entryway. The flags whip with the strong gusts.
Slobs have been unusually quiet overnight. The first half mile or so there’s virtually nothing to be picked up. That strikes me as odd since it’s the one weekend where you might expect a few extra beer cans to be carelessly tossed aside.
The dearth of junk changes in short order with the retrieval of a 3′ by 4′ sheet of thin, flimsy polystyrene wrap. Then the cans and plastic bottles come in quick succession. It’s back to business as usual.
There is one horrific find squarely on the sidewalk. Some jerk, or jerks, jettisoned three polystyrene to-go boxes which have spilled out of a plastic bag. Apparently the trash thugs didn’t think much of their purchase; each of the boxes is full of uneaten food. Cursing, I begin the extraction process when I notice the food is covered in ants. Leading to the boxes is a thick column of these tiny foragers, thousands of them, streaming to and fro, most laden with small chunks of their prize as they disappear into the grass adjacent to the concrete. It was reminiscent of a Nature Channel episode set in the Amazon rain forest where the swarm of insects go about their business in single file fashion. I summarily empty what appears to be an inedible (except to the ants) Asian menu into the grass to make the journey a little shorter for these little workers. I can only hope that the ant who discovered this bounty and called in this motherlode to the colony was elevated to king, or queen, for a day.
On I go. It’s the usual and sundry this morning. All manner of items beyond count. I wonder momentarily about the shared insanity of these treks, the litterers in their lunacy, me in my abnormal fixation with keeping the byway clean. I say aloud Thank you Lord, for letting me be crazy. I take His silence as consent.
But now I’m home, a nuked cup of coffee just to my right as I write this. There’s still one helluva day ahead of me to do the more fun things. Yeah, I may chirp about getting up with the chickens but that doesn’t negate that it’s a satisfying way to jump start the 4th of July.