It’s remarkable how quickly and easily New Yorkers can voyage to natural beauty – given the size and scope of the concrete dystopia in which we reside. You’d think it would take hours and hours and miles and miles to leave all the urban blight behind. But there’s actually a downside to nature’s proximity. No class assholes can muck up the beauty that lies so close.
Long ago I came to realize that the first thing I should do once arriving by bus at Bear Mountain is well…to get away from Bear Mountain. If you’ve never been – especially on a sunny weekend – you might wonder “Is there anybody left in the Bronx?” Let us just say that Appalachian through-hikers are few and far between while families cooking out are everywhere and anywhere you look. Hearty backwoods pioneers they are not. They’d be as likely to hike up the Major Welch Trail as I would be to shop for a suit at Saks Fifth Avenue. Never happen! And that’s ok! To each his own. Just because I’m a hiker doesn’t mean they have to be.
Well anyway…yesterday was an extremely hot day. And so when I took the bus up to the mountain, I’d already decided not to climb any of the three peaks within hiking distance of the bus stop. Rather I’d stroll down to the Hudson (which I haven’t done for a while)…check out the zoo…on to Fort Montgomery…and then to my favorite rapids for a dip and session communing with nature. That would fill the five hour window the bus schedule allows.
And now to the point. The view from the western shore of the Hudson across to Anthony’s Nose at that location in the river is pretty sweet. And so it was yesterday. But while the shore is rarely a destination for the no-hike/barbecue crew, enough had ventured forth to leave their calling cards in the form of copious waste materials. Plastic water bottles, paper bags, styrofoam food receptacles and all manner of detritus littered the pristine shoreline. Like what the fuck? Haven’t they ever heard of taking out what you bring in to nature?
Many years ago, I saw a map of the five boros indicating which neighborhoods recycled and which simply ignored the new conservation consciousness. Guess which neighborhoods didn’t give a shit! The Bronx was a leader. And in fact, poor neighborhoods all topped the list while rich folks had a mind toward the future. Exactly why this is I won’t speculate. I wouldn’t want to inadvertently make a racist comment.
It actually occurred to me to pick up all that litter. But I had nothing to place it in…and I knew it would be back by the end of the coming weekend at the very latest. It’s the old “teach a guy to fish and he can feed himself forever.” Picking up after no class slobs isn’t the fix. Teaching them not to be slobs is the answer.
Fortunately, the trail I finished my day on is not one traveled by anybody but people who love nature. And as such, the amount of litter, though not non-existent, was considerably less than down by the water. For two hours, I alternately sat on a rock and bathed in the cold flowing water oblivious to what a hot fucking day it truly was. And in that time, I did not see one person – nature-lover or no-class slob. Only a family of deer silently came to visit – and then gracefully darted back in the woods before I could even take a picture.
All in all…a very nice day – no class litterers notwithstanding. Just savoring my freedom while I have it. I’m not one to take good fortune for granted. Never was.