We were amazed at the extent of the trash, in piles both deep and wide. We walked forward into the woods, crunching glass underfoot, over piles of thousands of liquor bottles, mostly broken. Possibly this was a gathering place for drinkers who then threw their bottles against the tree trunks...maybe for fun, or vying for distance...? We also saw smashed dishes, cups, furniture, garden hoses and plenty of plastic refuse in this rubbish heap. There was a variety of shoes, and several pairs of ancient "nylons" to accompany them. Hoping to possibly find something valuable, like a diamond ring, we were also anxious we'd discover something worthy of Forensic Files. When someone unearthed a leg (see photo), there was a collective intake of breath, but it was a mannequin's leg.
Some of us wrestled out larger items; a water heater, tires, a bed frame, lawn chairs, a broken couch... with the help of a pickaxe and a wheelbarrow which someone had the foresight to bring. But most of the Friends of Brightwood Park volunteers sat or knelt on a cleared spot among the struggling undergrowth, gathering shards and various pieces of multicolored glass for hours, dropping them into our sturdy Home Depot buckets, using heavy work gloves. The more we collected, the more we found, in layer upon layer. We took turns carrying or passing along the heavy, full buckets down the trail to the awaiting dumpster, rented for the occasion.
Among us, someone said loudly: "I never knew working could be so much fun". Surprisingly, there were assenting comments all around, in the woods, among the toiling volunteers. We probably sensed the atmosphere of friendly teamwork. And we additionally may have felt the rush of satisfaction found in striving towards a goal larger than ourselves, that of improving the environment for everyone.
But most of all, there was a feeling of delight. For it was obvious to all our eyes that this area of Brightwood Park hadn't looked THIS good in many, many years.
John Linderman, Tom Mann, Nicole Chartrain, Denise Ricci