Letter: My trashy tale | SteamboatToday.com

Letter: My trashy tale

We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Don't trash it. This was collected from a walk on Steamboat Boulevard on Monday, May 1.
Jacqueline Denny/Courtesy photo

There’s a nearby road I run up early in the morning year-round. In winter, softly falling pre-dawn snow, bright stars shining down through the frigid dark air, and sometimes elk or moose. In summer, birds sing out as the sun paints the barest of pinks, yellows and oranges across the first hour of blue sky.

In recent weeks, looking for early spring blooms, the receding snow has revealed instead a treasure trove fit for a rat. Garbage in gullies, culverts, snagged in the lustrous needles of evergreens and budding-out branches of shrubs. I decided to improve my outlook and go pick up that trash. 

Monday, May 1, May Day, seemed a perfect choice for my rubbish walk. I suited up with blue nitrile gloves, grabbed a sturdy trash bag, and headed out the door. I figured it would take me about an hour.

Two hours later I trudged home, staggering under the weight of my ripping garbage bag. The muscles of my arms and back were maxed out. Sunburned and thirsty, I peeled off my gloves, and inside each finger-tip was a literal puddle of sweat. 

The photo published in Saturday’s edition of the Steamboat Pilot & Today was my take for the day. What you can’t see are the dozens of cigarette butts, broken glass bottles, car parts, a rusty bike chain, and more. In the first half-mile, I was dismayed by how much there was to pick up, by humans who cared so little about this beautiful place that they thoughtlessly trashed it. 

That gave way to curiosity about the reaction of the people around to what I was doing. Many cars passed. Some slowed down, gave space, many did not. Cyclists, a skateboarder, someone on foot — all passed silently, turning away as if embarrassed. 

In two hours, one driver, one pedestrian, and one runner thanked me. 

To be clear, I did not do this in order to be thanked. My motivation was self-serving: I wanted to enjoy my morning run sans litter. But the plethora of trash and the majority of encounters on the road left me with a sense of human disconnection. 

The three people who made the effort to express appreciation are ultimately what I choose to focus on. Their acknowledgement helped me feel a connection to them, for just a brief moment. A reminder that we are on the same team, all human, all in this together.

Jacqueline Denny

Steamboat Springs

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