Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ducks on the Water

A while ago my sister and brother-in-law were commenting that when they pick up litter along Brown's Creek Trail in Stillwater they notice that they find themselves looking down on the trail rather than at the beauty around them.  I've thought about that too.  It can become a negative side effect of trash picking. When I walk up the river I make sure I have time to dawdle and contemplate.  I empty my bag and try not to pick up anything I might see on the way back.  It will still likely be there another day anyway.


The other day I ran into a neighbor of mine who was walking along the river carrying a book on wild plants. She showed me wild grapes, catnip, chokeberries and a variety of other plants.  I don't trust my abilities to identify edible varieties so I will just be content to snap a few photos.  I would like to know the names of some of the local wildflowers though.

And finally, just have to sneak in a few pics of recent trash. Oh, well.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Far Beach Revisited

I was back at Far Beach several times this week and was surprised to see how much new litter had floated in since I was there in early July.  Back to square one.  This has to be coming from the communities north of downtown Minneapolis.  I wonder if some of the other parks along the Mississippi River are having this same problem.
I picked up one of those plastic rings for holding a 6 pack of beer or pop together.  I've read that those things can cause problems for animals and birds, but I've probably only picked up two of them since I have been doing this.  I don't buy beer that uses those rings.  They are unnecessary packaging.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Quenching Your Thirst

When the season for neighborhood festivals and events began this year in Minneapolis, I started noticing these portable water fountains.  It gives you a chance to stay hydrated on a hot day and opt out of purchasing a plastic bottle of water.  If you bring your own container here is your place to refill.  It's nice to have this too because I'd rather spend my cash on a beer at an event than on tap water shipped in from California.  These contraptions are provided by Tap Minneapolis, an organization that promotes ditching the bottled water for tap water.

Thanks to my sister for my new Klean Kanteen water container.  I love that eggplant color and it is remarkably light weight.

I am fortunate to live in a city where the water is safe, clean, and tastes good.  There are certainly circumstances where buying a bottle of water is convenient but generally it makes good economic and environmental sense to ween ourselves off this bottle.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Urban Fishing

No, I didn't set up this tableau.  It was just there.  I find quite a few dead fish along the banks of the river in various states of decomposition and I suppose that is somewhat normal.  Maybe those two Great Blue Herons living in Bassett Creek lunched on this guy.  When I'm out walking and picking up trash I see any number of folks fishing in the river near downtown.  The guys I've talked to don't seem like the type to leave their litter behind.  I don't fish now but I have fished with family and I don't remember any of us leaving our trash behind.  I can remember standing at the end of a dock as a teenager waiting for an hour for a smallmouth bass to hit my line.  Waiting in the sunshine, watching the water, the anticipation.  I get why folks love to fish. The allure of urban fishing in Minneapolis is captured perfectly in this story from the Star Tribune from 2013. 

I love the very first sentence of Chris Clayton's article: "It was hot that day, and the Mississippi was low enough that from certain angles you could see its sepia-toned riverbed-the rocks, the bits of trash, and the carp that surfaced now and then like little ugly whales." I wonder if he was just trying to stay positive when he says "bits of trash".  I didn't live in downtown Minneapolis in 2013 so I don't know how bad the litter problem was at that time. I hope we've made some improvements since then.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Last Straw

 Back to my volunteer job after a few days off and still cleaning up Far Beach a week after the 4th of July weekend.  (Can you really catch fish with canned corn?)  There are massive amounts of trash along the banks of  Bassett Creek right now.  The water level is the lowest I've seen and I'm not sure how much litter is new and how much spewed from the conduit that hooks in with downtown storm drains.

 The creek litterally pooped out thousands of colorful straws this weekend.  Use it once and toss it!  I wonder what those Blue Herons think about all those straws.
I have a new grabber gadget.  I don't love it but it may come in useful for some hard to reach things.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Great Blue Heron

I think this is a Great Blue Heron.  I see a pair of them in Bassett Creek just before it empties out into the Mississippi. Wtih the lower water levels, the banks are really muddy right now.  That bank on the left is just loaded with muddy trash but I can't get to it very easily.  It's best left to someone with a canoe.

The rain we had Monday washed up all sorts of new stuff. There were a few things left over from the 4th of July weekend too.  Sometimes it feels like I am making no progress at all. I probably just need a beer.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Styrofoam bits on the beach

Concentrating on picking up small trash bits along the river a few days ago.  Most of this is Styrofoam of one type or another.  Styrofoam peanuts, broken up coolers, packing material, coffee cups, takeout trays, etc.  I see a lot of small bead like bits of Styrofoam along the beaches. They look like tiny white eggs. I don't know what products they were originally but those beads are everywhere.  They float and float and float and never go away.  I was out at the Mall of America yesterday and when I arrived I was starving so I bought some noodles from a fast food place.  I was half way done when I realized it was served in a Styrofoam container. Ahhhhhh.  I looked at the bottom just to make sure.  Yes, #6 EPS extruded polystyrene also known by the trade name Styrofoam.  Ahhhhh.  I had made myself a promise to ONLY patronize places that serve takeout in eco-friendly containers.  Mall of America is not Minneapolis so the new rules don't apply.  Mall of America is Bloomington.  I wonder if they are considering a ban on Styrofoam as Minneapolis (and now New York City) have done.  I wonder how many cities across the country are considering this.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Walmart Store #1864

I saw this jacket in a litter pool back on June 4th.  It was stuck under a bunch of debris and just far enough out that I couldn't reach it.  With lower water levels I was finally able to grab it today and also get a backpack that was wrapped around some tree branches.  That's a Refrigiwear brand jacket from Walmart store #1864. That's the superstore in Brooklyn Park about 10 miles north of downtown.  Was this jacket owned by a former Walmart employee? I don't know who else would embroider the store number on their clothing. Wonder what happened to that employee. I don't think it ended well. Walmart #1864 is right next door to Shingle Creek which zigs and zags its way for about 15 miles before it gets to the Mississippi River.  I'm not familiar with this creek but it seems somewhat unlikely that it could have traveled that far before becoming tangled in something but who knows.  The power of water! By the way there was a nice large plastic bag waiting for me on the beach right before I got to this spot.  

June 4th photo of the jacket (top right) buried in the litter pool

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Far Beach

Looking upstream
Looking toward downtown

I call this beach Far Beach because it is the farthest beach from home when I do my trash walking.  That is the Plymouth Bridge in the photo on the left.  All the land in this stretch (about one mile) from downtown to the Plymouth Bridge is wonderful park land.  I think this beach is starting to look pretty good.  There is still plenty to do but I feel progress is being made.  

My escort says enough is enough, time to get home!  I love that tree.

We were watching the big fish in the river last night vacuum up cigarette butts in the river and then vomit them back up.  Maybe those fish are smarter than humans!  Better than watching TV.