Sometimes, up here in our quiet little neighborhood near Snowcrest Inn, we are unaware of the chaos going on just a quarter of a mile away. Such was the case on New Year’s Day. We’d had enough snow to make it possible for plastic sleds to slide out of control down a few slopes behind the campground, so the highway just below our private road was jammed with vehicles, some parked helter skelter and some rolling slowly forward as distracted drivers searched for a place to squeeze in.
Excited to attend my daughter’s poetry reading that evening, I hadn’t even considered what I might encounter as I tried to leave the mountain… until I white-knuckled it down our ice-slick road to find two SUV’s blocking the entrance to the main highway. Both drivers ignored me when I tapped on the horn several times. They also ignored me when I laid on the horn in frustration. They did not ignore me when I got out and informed them impatiently that they were about to be ticketed by the ranger if he happened along.
Back in the truck, I tried to regain my usually calm demeanor as I watched the two drivers finally move off. Taking deep breaths, I pulled onto the highway… and found myself in a long line of traffic rolling along at 10mph. I had plenty of time, having left early, so I settled in for the drive… behind a gold Chevy Suburban, license plate #6CPK813.
As I watched, a child’s arm emerged from a side window on the passenger side. Clutched in the small hand was a plastic bag. Around one switchback, then another, I followed the Suburban, watching the bag hang precariously from the kid’s hand. Then, as we navigated the final hairpin, right next to a turnout that leads to a beautiful, verdant section of the stream, the tiny hand opened wide… and the bag was ditched by the side of the road.
I hit my brakes as safely as I could with a line of cars on my back bumper, thinking the Suburban would brake, pull over, go back for the child’s treasure. But no. Of course not. The drop was intentional. Like so many people who come to visit, this family mistakenly believed that, like their local movie theater, after the pretty show some young people would come through with a trash can and brooms and clean the place up.
I have to wonder at the conversation in the car. Was little Johnny reluctant when Mom or Dad or both told him to drop the trash out the window? Did anyone in the car protest? The bag had hung there out the window for at least a half mile. Did Johnny have to be talked into committing this sin against the scenery? I can only hope.
I followed the car all the way down the mountain and into
but lost track of it when several cars pulled in between us at an
intersection. I wanted to catch
them. I wanted to pull up alongside,
smile disarmingly, motion for them to roll down the window, then ask if our
mountain looked like a giant trash can to them or who they thought would come along
behind them to clean up their mess?
And, because I just can’t help myself, I looked for the bag on my way home (in the dark) and again the next morning on the way down the mountain. It was gone, probably snatched up by a coyote, bits of the family’s trash no doubt chewed and strewed all along the stream. Sigh. I have committed their license number to memory. I hope you will, too. I just want to ask them the question… maybe look into little Johnny’s eyes.