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Blame It On the Paper Boy

The worst offender on our road for garbage is not the smoker, not the Tim Horton’s fiend, or the motorists who openly drink while driving (although they are near the top of the list).

It is the paper boy, or the paper person, or whoever this obnoxious individual is who litters the sideroads from our home to Baycrest Marina and beyond with computer printouts of newspaper deliveries. The printouts are peppered with puzzling computer numbers and codes, occasionally names like National Post, Toronto Sun or Connelly News popping up amongst the plethora of zeros and a miscellany of other small, mysterious numbers.

The printouts are just a few of the unexplained items that I find on my 5 km walk every morning. Last week, there was a homemade wooden cement leveller along the roadside. Likely fell off a trailer on its way to the dump. But, I can’t explain the articles of children’s clothing I found earlier this week sprinkled along the roadside for more than a kilometre, mainly T-shirts. At least it wasn’t underwear, like I used to find at Sandbanks Park when I worked there in the 1980s. In one memorable season, I found no fewer than nine pairs of men’s under briefs along the Cedar Sands Nature Trail, all of them dangling from tree branches, obviously from persons taking the term “Nature” to the limit.

One morning a few years ago along our roadside, it was a hunk of liver. Not a chicken liver, or even a pork liver. This was the largest liver I had ever seen in my life, as though it came from an elephant, and there it was, stretched out ignominiously on the shoulder of the road where crows and turkey vultures feasted on it for weeks, until it was gone. These are mysteries I see every morning, like the ATV tracks this morning through someone’s uncut hay field under tinder dry conditions  (ATV operators have set two marshes ablaze in as many years with their mindless actions).

There is a story behind every discarded item I find along our roadside, and I would give anything to delve into the background of how these items came to end up where they did  – the porn DVD glistening in a water filled ditch last spring, the full package of cigarettes (I gave up smoking 21 years ago, so they didn’t tempt me in the least). Was it an irate passenger who said “enough’s enough” and flung someone’s unopened cigarettes out the window.  And the liver. There’s got to be an interesting story there.

Do I pick up any of these items? Not any longer. I simply can’t keep up with the litter. Mostly, like the TV commercial, “I don’t know where it’s been!” Anyway, the County mower that does the roadsides once a year grinds it all up into pulp where it will ultimately dissolve into something useful for the ground beneath. But I do pick up the computer printouts because I have become somewhat obsessed with their regular appearance. One of the sheets advises that if there is a delivery problem to call 1-888-229-9987. Think I will give them a call.

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About the Author: Terry Sprague became interested in nature at an early age. "Growing up on the family farm at Big Island, 12 miles north of Picton, on the shore of the beautiful Bay of Quinte, I was always interested in the natural world around me. During my elementary school days at the small one-room school I attended on Big Island, I received considerable encouragement from the late Marie Foster, my teacher in Grades 6 through 8. Her home was a short distance from where I lived and through the years she was responsible for developing my interest in birds. The late Phil Dodds, a former editor with the Picton Gazette, also a great nature enthusiast, suggested I undertake a nature column - a column I have submitted weekly since 1965. The column has since expanded to the Napanee Beaver and the Tweed News. Life has been good, and through the years I have enjoyed working with such nature related agencies as Glenora Fisheries Research as a resource technician, Sandbanks Provincial Park as a park interpreter and Quinte Conservation as a naturalist and outdoor events coordinator. As a nature interpreter, currently working from my home office, I now create and lead numerous interpretive events in the area and offer indoor audio/visual presentations to interested groups. Could one who is interested in nature have enjoyed a more exhilarating period in the work force?" Terry's website is

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  1. Louisa says:

    Yes, do give them a call Terry, just for fun.

    The thing I see the most of is plastic water and soft drink bottles. The occasion single item of footwear, its mate nowhere to be seen, is a common thing too, and baffling. Just a couple days ago there was a box of rosebud chocolates strewn across North Beach Road, melting into hot pools of glistening chocolate…what a damned waste! (and traumatic for a chocoholic such as I to witness!).

    I don’t pick up garbage anymore either. I’m nobody’s keeper, and I resented doing it. But I do have to keep looking at it. I try to ignore it. We just got back from Newfoundland, and I can tell you the roadsides there are clean. No Tim Horton’s cups and McDonald’s bags, ‘lost’ recycling or garbage. There are so few fast food places except in the large cities, I’m thinking that makes a difference. Or, people there just take pride in their environment. Who knows?

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