By Nancy Hellekson
Remember a few weeks back, I told you that Denise and I would return to finish cleaning up the pond and save the turtles from wearing those plastic beer can holders as necklaces? Well, that’s exactly what we did today. We returned to the scene of the crime. Or is that “grime?”
We loaded the golf cart with a huge trash can. Slipped two rakes under the seat. Checked our supplies: rubber boots, long pink rubber gloves, sun hat, rain gear, and phone for emergencies. This time we added a long piece of rope. If you remember last time, I sank down into the bottomless ooze. Fortunately, I was able to grab some vegetation along the edge to pull myself out. Well, if it happened again, we’d use the rope. One of us would throw it to the sinker, tie the other end to the golf cart, and drag them out. (In case you’re wondering, we didn’t need the rope this time.)
We looked like the pink version of the maintenance crew. Once there, we noticed that the pond wasn’t the same as before. Because it hadn’t rained lately, the water was down a foot or two. This was good; it gave us the opportunity to gather trash that used to be under the water.
We started moving around the side of the pond we hadn’t cleaned before—the golf course side. We were finding the usual stuff: bottle caps, plastic bags, food containers, small liquor bottles, roofing materials, plastic strapping, crushed beer cans with sharp edges, water-filled beer cans, and plastic bottles.
As I mentioned before, this pond abuts a golf course where we had scored three golf clubs last time. Driving around the pond’s edge below the golf cart path, golfers would pass and look down at us with questioning looks. We’d smile and wave cheerily. “Hi there! Yep, we’re the pink cleaning crew. At it again.”
We even watched one foursome of women stop and pass around a small bottle of booze just like the ones we were finding in the pond. And yes, it was 10 am in the morning. I think they call it a “birdie shot”.
We were about three-quarters finished when we were stopped by the law. Yes, the friendly golf course ambassador, known as the Enforcer of All Things Golf, drove down into the gully to meet us.
“Haven’t you seen the ‘No Fishing Beyond this Point signs?” he asked.
“We aren’t fishing,” we tried to explain. “We’re your friendly Villages environmentalists picking up the smelly trash that the messy Villages’ golfers left behind.”
“You can’t pick up trash here either,” he explained patiently.
“You’re on the golf course side of the pond and could easily get hit with a ball. Go back to the other side and out of the way.” The Villages apparently didn’t want to get slapped with a lawsuit because some golfer sliced a drive in the direction of my head. (Perhaps, next time we’ll wear bicycle helmets.)
Disappointed, but in awe of an authority greater than ourselves, Denise turned the cart around and headed back to the area where we picked up trash last time. We couldn’t believe the amount of new trash in view where the pond had receded. At the two-hour point, we were exhausted and stinky, but satisfied.
We had filled up half a trash can with garbage and found a dozen golf balls, plastic water bottles, a six-pack worth of empty Busch Lite beer cans (Why is it that golfers like Busch Lite or are we dealing with one golfer?), several of those evil plastic beer can holders, and even a yellow reflector that you see glued to the road. (How did that ever get into the pond?)
We drove home with our treasures, hosed off our boots, legs, and gloves, and gave the golf cart a thorough rinse. Our wet, stinky clothes were left on the garage floor, and we headed out to the lanai (in fresh clothes) to drink water and savor the day.
Would we do it again? Of course!