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Field of screams …

The plastic bin came in handy as a catch-all for all the plastic debris. All of it went into the recycle bin, and we will let recyclers determine the final fate of what was found.

Several hundred yards behind my new house in Brevard is the French Broad River. It’s reputed to be a great fishery and a haven for kayakers and canoeists.

I’d yet to walk back there in the 60-plus days of mountain residency and this morning seemed as a good a time as any to explore the local landscape. I tucked a plastic bag in my hip pocket since my intended route would have me traverse 600 or so yards along Neely Street. One never knows what litter will be stumbled upon.


But at the last moment, I recalled the developer of my home saying residents could access the river through a nearby farm field. So I ditched the hike along Neely and reversed my path to make a hoped-for bee line roughly 300 yards through a muddy field of last fall’s cut corn.

Let’s just say it’s good the bag came along for the walk. No sooner was I tromping between rows of corn stubble than the first plastic bottle – flattened and dirt-clogged and encrusted – was found. So out came the bag and in went the filthy piece of junk.

It was the first, but far from the last, find.

All though the field, a the flat flood plain just to the north of the French Broad, was plastic of one sort or another: bottles, chunks of unknown objects, a huge black vessel that would ultimately replace my bag, gallon jugs and a ‘disposable’ cereal bowl. From the looks of things, all of this had laid fallow for a while.

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It could be that I toted home more dirt than plastic by weight.

Nearly every bottle was caked and filled with field soil. To my right as I walked was a drainage ditch that eventually emptied into the French Broad and when the big river did flood, it emptied silt and sand into the field. Hence the fill in the semi-buried bottles. Another sign of unfortunate longevity: many of the bottles were mangled and mashed, no doubt victims of a tractor and tiller.

I slammed the debris on the muddy ground in so-so attempts to dislodge the muck, in part to lighten the load and perhaps make recycling easier for recyclers.

The stuffed-to-the gills bag harkened back to my much longer walks in Charlotte. But today was far shorter and, for the first time ever, was conducted in a farm field. It’s disgusting that our source of food would be inundated with plastic and junk. Not even agriculture is exempted from gory trash.

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The plastic bin came in handy as a catch-all for all the plastic debris. All of it went into the recycle bin, and we will let recyclers determine the final fate of what was found.

As for the large black bin, it became the overflow receptacle for the bag and still more junk I overlooked on my abortive trek to the river.

So my nature walk went in an entirely different and unintended direction from the get-go. Given my penchant for cursing out loud, this venture could’ve been punctuated by screams. Perhaps it’s a good thing no one would’ve heard me.

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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