This past weekend, we went a-foraging. It’s been super dry here, and unseasonably warm, so no mushrooms or other wild edibles to be found, unfortunately. (I did manage to find some still-green gumballs for medicine making, but that will have to be a separate post.) In an effort to find something, we went off the beaten path, literally, and found ourselves in a part of the woods we hadn’t explored before, which contained a very old trash pile.
At first I was super upset. I had always marveled about how unspoiled this beautiful forest park was, how we never found litter or any other signs, besides the path, that people were ever there. But this, this was a sign that people had indeed been there, and, doing what people do, left unwanted their junk and trash to rot.
Based on the bottles and cans strewn about, we estimated a majority of this had been there since the mid-70’s, or at least originated then. The soda and beer cans had the old pull-tabs that began going out in 1975, when apparently they noticed people were choking on the fully-detachable tabs.
Anyway, I was really bothered by the mess and human disregard for the natural environment. Not just that someone had used this for their personal dumping ground for how long? But also that no one had come to clean it up over the last 40+ years. It is a state park, after all! And then, something caught my eye.
I’m a jar hoarder. I call my collection my “emergency jars,” because you never know when you’ll need a glass container for something, right?! So, even in my dismay about the trash, I found myself scanning for any salvagable or interesting glass that might be mixed in. And then I saw it.
The green bottle was buried right side up near the edge of the mess. I pulled it out, thinking the bottom was probably broken off, to show my sweetheart. But the bottle wasn’t broken. It was a fully intact (old 7UP) bottle with a little bit of moisture in the bottom, and a whole ecosystem! There was some moss, a little tiny fern, some other plants, a bit of soil, some critters…it was a beautiful thing! I found the clear bottle nearby, buried open end down, and again, full of a little ecosystem of it’s own.
As I explored, I found more an more. Beautiful little terrariums. Minature moss gardens. All places nature had found a way to not just adapt to the human mess that had been left, but actually use it to its advantage.
Moist microclimates and mini terrariums:
Moisture retentive planting media:
Everywhere I looked, I found signs that nature just keeps on keeping on, even dispite human disregard and carelessness.
We left the pile there, untouched. Maybe someone will clean it up someday. But if not, I am fully confident that nature will reclaim what’s hers in the end and restore balance.