From the Braver Institute
I decided to remedy my dilemma with an excursion into the woods. I had the itch to get out and walk around. In a normal year walking in the woods would not be an option. Snowshoes or skis are the practical way to travel on forest trails during the winter here, but this year there has been precious little snow for such activities. On the other side of the coin, there has been too much snow for ordinary hiking.
I had a theory that with the lim- ited snowfall this area has received, the warmer temperatures, and then the following drop in temperature, the crust that forms on the top of the snow in circumstances such as these would be strong enough to support my weight.
I struck out for the Pine Marten Run trail system in the Hiawatha National Forest.
I found a place along the road where I could park my car and I started into the forest at one of the trail heads. My theory about the snow was mostly correct. It did support my weight, and where it did not, it wasn’t deep enough to matter.
What I always find to be a won- derful thing about the woods in the winter is the blanket of snow that covers everything, and its ability to even out the places that might not look so good in the warmer months. Snow is a great equalizer for the ap- pearance of the forest.
Snow can also cover up the many signs of humans.
While I love being out in the woods hiking, camping, and ca- noeing, among other activities, I should make it clear that I am not some tree hugger, walking around with my bag of granola communing with nature. At the same time I am not running around with a chainsaw in my hand anxious to make my mark on the countryside.
I believe in the wise use, and good stewardship of our natural resources. I am definitely not an environmentalist. I suppose I could be considered more of a conserva- tionist.
Anyway, it seems that the for- est, even with this blanket of white that hides a million man-made sins, there is one type of human that seems to be able to leave their mark despite nature’s best efforts to cov- er it up. That human, of course, is the careless Anheuser-Busch prod- uct drinker, otherwise known as the Scourge of the Forest Land.
It seems that every time I set foot in the woods I am subjected to a barrage of empty containers that scream “BUD LIGHT” or “BUSCH LIGHT” at me. Occasionally I see standard Budweiser garbage lying about in the woods, but most of the time the empty can, bottle, or box is emblazoned with the word “LIGHT”. I’m not sure why that is.
Perhaps there is something about the name that makes the consum- ers of these products feel like they aren’t really littering. “Hey, it is just “light” litter, and that’s not the same as real litter so it’s okay if I throw this out.”
Okay, now before all of you An- heuser-Busch lovers out there get your noses all out of joint, and start writing threatening letters request- ing my presence at your local bar so you can tell me a thing or two, just take a deep breath and read on. Now I know that not all of you who drink these products are litter-bugs, so you should take no offense, but I would bet money that on any given trip through the woods, nine times out of ten the litterer’s beer of choice is made by this company. It would seem that a disproportionate amount of litterers drink Anheuser- Busch products.
Anyway, my winter walk was proving to be very free of signs of human impact, that is until the trail skirted the edge of a lake.
Turning off of the trail, I stepped out into an opening in the trees which allowed a clear view of the frozen lake. I stood there looking for a moment, and since it pretty much looked exactly like any fro- zen lake, I turned away to con- tinue down the trail. That is when I spotted it. Leaning against a tree was a bottle of Bud Light with a broken neck. Of course a broken bottle can’t be turned in for deposit, so the best thing to do with one is leave it where you broke it, or so would seem the logic.
I would have to assume that the person who left the bottle there suf- fered from an extremely diminished mental capacity, since they appar- ently thought that someone else would want to pick up the bottle, and carry it out of the woods. That or they figured glass was somehow biodegradable. Either way, the per- son who left it was an idiot. As is the case with anyone else who leaves their crap out there for everyone else to enjoy.
Oh, and yes, I carried the bottle out of the woods.