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The things in the ditch
editor's notes

Like an archeologist cataloging a ruin, I’ve been tempted over the years to keep inventory of all the things thrown out by the good people who drive past my wife’s 1.1 acres of once prime but now surrounded real estate.

Over there, Sunday, by a fire ant bed and a curve ahead sign was another empty Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey mini bottle, the 50th or so I’ve picked up over the last two-three decades so I don’t run over them with a lawnmower.

(Note: if you poke the fire ant bed with a stick the ants come boiling out. It kind of reminds me of rush hour traffic in Richmond Hill.) Over there a wrinkled Chick-fil-A bag containing what might be a partially chomped sandwich, though I’m not exactly sure.

Inside the bag were some fries and ketchup packets and a receipt - I’ve gotten into the habit of checking to see if I can find a name. I don’t know why. I can see how that conversation would go.

Me: Howdy. I found this on our property. Would you like it back?

The litterer, who for some reason I envision with a man bun, Michigan t-shirt and large, child bearing hips: Well, if I wanted it I wouldn’t have thrown it away now would I?

Onward. The matching styrofoam cup and lid and straw were nearby, sort of lodged up against sowthistle. Apparently not everybody loves Chick-fil-A.

I digress.

I could fill up a notebook for posterity listing tangible evidence people were here, driving past on their way somewhere.

It’s the same old song and dance.

More cars, more people, more shopping opportunities, all quality of life improvements we should be grateful to the big shots in charge for bringing our way as they justify their existence and usage of tax dollars exacted both fair and square from those of us too poor to hire lawyers to find loopholes or con voters into passing crookedly worded exemptions.

And so, if you look at it a certain way, maybe that dirty disposable diaper someone not long ago flung into the saw palmetto and wax myrtle and pines and blackberry bushes on our side lot is progress.

It probably was sent sailing out a car window by someone who just five years ago didn’t have a decent job and therefore couldn’t afford disposable diapers or a kid to put in them, or a car, or the gas to drive past our house.

Now they can.

But I hope, some day, before we get buried in a mountain of disposable nappies and other garbage left on roadsides by the sort of people who think it’s reasonable to place their garbage wherever they choose, and before every square inch is turned into some asphalt or vinyl or a chain of something selling us something, maybe the powers that be will start up a CSPLOST, or conservation special location option sales tax, with the money used to buy up land and then leave it alone.

Once, a few years back, I cashed in a wadded up lottery scratch-off worth $20 someone chunked out. People are always throwing away lottery tickets.

I’ve picked up lots of plastic bottles and styrofoam cups and an endless supply of cigarette butts and receipts and wrappers and bottle caps and the jetsam and flotsam washed up by the flow of traffic.

Plastic cutlery. Beer bottles and coke cans – this is the South and it’s coke, not pop or soda – and coke bottles and beer cans, and the cardboard wrappers they left the store in, unless they were quart bottles. Those have turned up in little brown bags.

I recall finding one full of a paler yellow liquid that might’ve been the result of drinking a quart of beer. I didn’t pour it out.

What else? Car parts. A tire.

A wig, once. And in that theme, hair extensions. The occasional shoe, including a high heel. Jewelry.

Prescription pill bottles, empty and with the labels scratched partially away.

Fishing line. The occasional cooler.

A blue flip flop that might’ve belonged to Bigfoot, if Bigfoot wears size 20-1/2.

Once, someone left a washing machine and dryer in our ditch. It disappeared the next day, but a rubber hose and dryer cord were left behind next to an empty styrofoam cup.

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