April 8, 2011

Off Beat: It's cleanup time

It's spring cleaning time, and a flurry of activity is planned for the weekend.

By Shannon Bryan sbryan@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

The ice scraper won't stop crying, and the shovel has sunk into a full-blown depression (he's "useless," he says, and has this unshakable feeling that no one really wants him around anymore).

click image to enlarge

Outdoor treasures like the Eastern Prom Trail soon will look like this again. But first they could use a bit of cleaning up.

Press Herald file


WHEN: 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday

WHERE: Portland's East End along the Promenade, the entrance to East End Beach, the Eastern Prom Trail and Fort Sumner Park

INFO: friendsofeasternpromenade. dreamhosters.com 


WHEN: 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. April 16 and 30

WHERE: Cow Island, Casco Bay

INFO: 791-7870; info@rippleffect.net 


WHEN: April 23

WHERE: Scarborough Marsh

INFO: higginsbeachmaine.com


WHEN: 2 to 3 p.m. April 16

WHERE: Wells Reserve at Laudholm, Wells

INFO: wellsreserve.org


WHEN: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 16

WHERE: Memorial Park, Old Orchard Beach 


WHEN: May 6 to 8 or May 13 to 15

WHERE: Recompence Shore Campground, Freeport

INFO: freeportcamping.com


Snow-related accoutrements don't handle the spring transition well.

The good news is, you'll barely be able to hear the self-deprecating whimpers once those objects of winter's past are tucked deep into a crowded corner of the basement.

The bad news is, winter sure marked her territory.

The melting snow has revealed trails of dropped garbage along streets and front yards -- much like a passing glacier might casually unload the fossils of woolly mammoths. Except the remnants of water bottles, sandwich wrappers and abandoned sneakers don't seem to garner quite the same interest (you know, anthropologically speaking).

We could leave all the garbage to be punted by the wind into the waiting branches of a nearby tree, but that sort of goes against the whole nature thing. Besides, trees already have enough on their plate, what with all the growing and photosynthesizing.

The spring cleaning is our responsibility. It's a solid "thank you, ma'am" to Mother Nature (who, nor'easters and April 1 snowfalls aside, is pretty darn good to us). Or if you prefer, consider it a downpayment on the impending near-perfection that is a Maine summer.

On Saturday, dog owners (and the people who love them) will spend the morning picking up what their four-legged sidekicks left behind. It's the 19th annual April Stools Day, and cleanups are taking place on Portland's East End along the Promenade, the entrance to East End Beach, the Eastern Prom Trail and Fort Sumner Park.

Elsewhere in Portland, April Stools Day celebrants will be scooping things up at Evergreen Cemetery and Reiche School. And while the good gesture is reward in itself, each cleanup location has a secret treasure hidden within its confines, which organizers refer to as "the golden turd." A special prize will be given to the registered scooper who finds said gem. The prize probably won't be a handshake.

Well-intended tidiers who'd prefer to steer clear of the stool, golden or otherwise, can stick to litter at the Loring Memorial Trail or the Fort Allen Trail.

Throughout April, as trash is belched out of receding icebergs and plastic bags try to hitch rides on the swift gutter currents of melted snow, there will be more cleanups.

If you appreciate cleaning as part of a crew (a penchant which may or may not have its roots in an "involuntary community service" stint you did back in '85), there are plenty of cleanups to consider. Head to Cow Island in Casco Bay, Scarborough Marsh in Scarborough or Memorial Park in Old Orchard Beach. Tidy the beach, the trail or the street in front of your house.

Just treat spring like a houseguest you're actually looking forward to having. Your mother-in-law probably gets the courtesy of clean sheets and a vacuumed family room -- and she's not even that likable.

We can't expect spring to kick aside our coffee cups and crumpled newspapers and sink contentedly into the torn cushions of our micro-fiber couch. This is spring we're talking about. It's a classy season. And classy seasons deserve the red-carpet treatment -- or at least a decent street sweeping.

Unless, of course, you'd rather spend another three months with the ice scraper.

Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 791-6333 or at:



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