When the grass shows hints of green, it's time for the annual ditch walk.
In late winter, I pick up trash from the ditches along the road in front of our farm.
The trash is most visible at this time of year, when the grass is dormant, dull tan and flattened close to the ground. Once the grass grows, it makes the cans, bottles and coffee cups difficult to spot without the aid of a mowing blade or disc--and that's not how you want to find trash.
As I pick up an oil filter, an empty carton of cigarettes, losing lottery tickets, I think of the couple walking our hay fields in June a few years back. After watching them pace back and forth, studying the ground, I asked them if they were looking for something.
"A cell phone," she said, explaining it had been tossed out of a moving car window during an argument the night before.
I wonder what I'll find during my annual ditch clean-up. When I was a child, our 4-H club picked up trash from ditches, and I marveled at finding shoes. We also picked up lots of bottles and McDonald's foam sandwich containers.
The environmental messages of my childhood were: Don't Be a Litterbug and Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires.
Today, environmental concerns range from recycling, to algae blooms, loss of pollinators and global warming. And, we still have litterbugs.
My garbage fills with beer bottles, plastic bottles, coffee cups, fast food bags, and so, so many Busch, Budweiser and Bud Light beer cans.
If more people would drink craft beer, they'd be less litter, I think. Does drinking loads of beer and littering go hand and hand?
It takes me an hour to pick up trash from the ditches along both sides of the road, and my trash bag is full.
I didn't find a cell phone.