We gather for our annual tradition of our attempt of removing this last Summer’s human activity on our beautiful Kokosing River. Everyone is excited to be here, all in their best old beat up clothes, old tennis shoes, floppy hats and clean body’s see. Everyone is energetic and excited as they pull their heavy canoes down to the river. It is a practiced well oiled machine. One by one boats are staged, wavers signed, t shirts passed out, gloves and garbage bags loaded and of course the ever fun to use grabber.
Vehicles were staged at the end point, the ominous dumpster there for all of us to see our goal. Fill that sucker! We have a short trip back to the start and off we go. People possessed! No can, bottle, plastic bag was going to go un-picked. Some would get out of their boat in knee deep mud to pick up a candy bar wrapper ten feet up the bank. A person is driven when they will risk injury to clean up some thoughtless person’s disgusting litter. (I think I may have misplaced the word disgusting.)
Eagles and herons kept an eye on us as we meandered down the stream. Our tire king just kept finding them buried in the mud and silt. With singleminded drive he would free them rinse the smelly mud off and add them to the growing pile in his canoe. The race was on to replace the king, but to no avail, he could not be held back. I asked myself, what drives us to do this? Why on earth would we take our free time, and do something that will sap us of all our energy, and make us smell like dump workers.
It is our river! We love her! We want her to flow free and clean like she has for thousands of years. She gives us so much pleasure in our lives, how can we let her be a trash dump? We Kokosing River Rats can not. At the end of the day, the smell and mud wash off. The fatigue is slept away, and a new day starts bright and clean. We know we did our best and we are proud to be friends of our river.