Being a part of the Big Thompson River clean-up on Saturday April 17th was a surprisingly emotional experience. The people at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch called and asked if I wanted to be one of their volunteers for the day. As a fly fisherman I am someone who benefits from clean clear water and as a conservationist at heart I was only too happy to be included.
As I walked the banks of the river gathering trash I was aware of a deep stirring within my soul. Every cell in my body contains an emotion antidote. That Y chromosome is supposed to keep those deep feelings locked up in the dungeon where they can be properly shackled. After all, as a man of 54 years on God’s green earth and have learned “A man aint supposed to cry!” I dropped off my bags of trash at our rally point headed off to eat a streamside lunch. I munched away watching to see what the fly pattern should be used to catch the rising trout my Y chromosomes failed entirely. What is going on here? Still munching I remembered back to the first time I was a trash collector.
On summer vacation we would often go to Nebraska to stay with grandparents. My brother and I would take the little red wagon all over the little bitty town picking up all kinds of trash. Grandma would take the refuse giving us money in exchange. We were working just for her and was our little secret together. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone. It was our little game we thought. We would hustle to the only store in town right in the middle of Main Street to spend our wages. I still remember sitting on the bench out front sipping cold pop and eating the candy we had just purchased inside. When we got back home to Colorado we got the tongue lashing of our lives from my mother (my brother blabbed.) It was my introduction to poverty, the fear of not having enough (fill in the blank.) When we went to the grocery store in Colorado with Mom she would always pay with S & H Green Stamps and a check. In Nebraska Grandma would pay with Food Stamps and cash. I always thought it was the Nebraska version of rebates. The innocence of youth was reinforced because when we were with grandparents in Nebraska we never felt poverty. We never sensed the fear of not having enough. They always took emotional ownership of us which kept poverty at bay. My Y chromosomes were failing. I realized the Jessup family had taken emotional ownership of the land. They had hired me to pick up trash. The compensation came in the quiet streamside lunch with the candy dessert of a quiet afternoon catching rising trout.
The steady afternoon rain made beads of water on the treated fishing jacket. The beads blended with the tears. The day’s activity was sponsored by American Rivers. This event occurred all over the country. Thanks Jessup family for the lesson. I wonder how many other trash collectors all over the country became emotional owners of their little corners on the planet. I am curious to know if they too caught the reality of becoming emotional owners as the antidote to the poverty of pollution. The real fear of not having enough (fill in the blank) because of the wastefulness our culture brings. I became an EMOTIONAL OWNER last Saturday April 17th 2010 of the Big Thompson Valley and so very much more.