We spend a lot of time walking, running and biking around our desert neighborhood. Our adventures are often rewarded with wildlife sightings including coyotes, javelinas, roadrunners, deer, prairie dogs, voles, hawks, bunnies, and lots of lots of quail.
The other day we were delighted by a very rare sighting of a covey of tiny baby quails pecking at what was a loaf of bread tossed on the road the day before. Willow snapped this photo with her phone just before they scurried away and hid behind the creosote bushes.
In addition to the fauna is the beautiful cactus flora, including an endless variety of cactus. And right now, the desert is abloom. The colors are so vivid they will stop you in your tracks—even if you’re running.
Unfortunately, we also spot a lot of trash. In spite of a lifetime of earth days, “don’t be a litterbug” slogans and recycling education efforts, it astounds me that there are still people who feel they have the right to throw their crap out of their car windows instead of saving it for a trash receptacle.
We therefore instigated a family community service project and became regular trash collectors for the neighborhood. And last evening, my girls and I went for our last sunset walk of the season. Community Service hours are due for Student Council, so we figured we’d wrap up the project for the school year.
It’s been a fun way to spend time with the girls—especially because they’re so funny. Camille, for example, loves walking in the middle of the busy street when no cars are present, because I think it gives her a sense of power. And both girls make up stories about some of the items they find: study notes, grocery lists, Slurpy cups, Rock Star cans and the like. “Drinking ‘n driving,” Willow says with a disapproving scoff each time she finds a discarded beer can.
Over the course of our neighborhood scavenger hunts, I’d say the items found most often are plastic grocery bags. They’re EVERYWHERE. And they are particularly treacherous to collect because more often than not they’re stuck to cactus and filled with needles. Straws may run a close second, but aluminum cans and plastic bottles are also shamefully prominent.
The most unusual find of all time has to be the discarded paper containing an acceptance speech for the Mrs. Arizona contest. We kept checking local media to see if one of our neighbors had won the event; however, ultimately made no discovery of crowned royalty in the hood.
Wrapping up the project for the year, we feel our social status may be that of mere trash collectors, but it helped us believe we were doing our part to keep our desert kingdom beautiful.