Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Trip to the Indiana Dunes to Photograph Beer Cans

On Sunday, we loaded into the car and drove an hour to the Indiana Dunes. I've visited them so often that they seemed unremarkable this time -- like an abandoned t.v. set for some movie rip off of Lawrence of Arabia.

I'd like to ooh and aah over their natural history for you, but I just don't feel like it. This time,it took too much effort to overlook the ugly steel plant spewing crap into the air on the horizon.

Not exactly a Kodak moment, is it? I suppose it's even more depressing when I think of how interrupted the nature at Starved Rock also seemed to me when we were there two weeks ago. (See post here.)

My brother-in-law and his wife, who just moved back to Chicago from northern California, came with us yesterday. All I could think about was how much it must suck for them to be hanging out on the beach, staring at that belching steel plant. I mean they used to get to go to Napa Valley and Monterey in a morning's drive.

But Julianna waved off the thought and pulled from her backpack a giant plastic bag with a bottle of white wine sitting in it, literally, on ice. "I just think every day should be a celebration," she announced as she fished out some plastic cups. I love her.

Later, after we were all feeling good and the kids were playing in the sand, I walked along the shoreline and picked up garbage. I had an empty plastic bag in my coat pocket leftover from when I walked Boomer. So, I just started picking up whatever I saw and putting it in my bag. There was something importantly cathartic about it for me. With each piece I removed from the beach, I felt like I was somehow restoring nature to where it had been robbed. Or, maybe I was drunk.

Here's what I picked up:

  • a crushed, plastic bottle that once held Minute Maid grape-artificially-flavored drink
  • a large chunk of broken styrofoam with some blue backing on it (maybe a boogie board?)
  • some little bits of styrofoam
  • a straw, probably from McDonald's because it had yellow and red stripes on it
  • a short, frayed piece of twine
  • a faded piece of a Spiderman popsicle wrapper
  • two white, plastic bottle caps
  • and, these, the garbage prize of the day:

It's hard not to try to picture who trashed these on the beach, isn't it?
One good thing about picking up garbage as you walk along the Indiana Dunes shoreline is that your return trip is pristine. That is, as long as you don't look at the horizon.

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