Ah, spring.

A time for awakening. For rejuvenation. The grass is growing. Flowers blooming. Color is returning, chasing away the gray of winter. But all that greening can’t chase away the trash that winter so rudely leaves behind. That’s going to take us. And a lot of us.

This time of year, we naturally gravitate to our yards to rake and clean and plant and mulch. Shine up the property a bit. Curb appeal and all.

But drive down the road a ways and look in the ditches. Winter is rough in so many ways, not the least of which are the winds that blow untold amounts of debris from lord-knows-where (seriously, where does it all come from?) into our fence rows and roadsides.

Not acceptable. This is our town. Our community. Our roads. Our sidewalks. Our right of ways and alleys. That trash is a reflection of us. Of our level of care – or lack thereof – for our home, and not just the parts of it we hold title to.

That’s our primary Out and About call for this month. Saturday is the annual Earth Day Cleanup event hosted by Keep Burlington Beautiful and led by some fantastic volunteers. I hope to…no, I PLAN to see you all at 8:00 AM at the Port of Burlington on Saturday stocking up on trash bags before heading to some part of town to clean up the mess that winter has left us.

Think of it as bagging up the remnants of winter and then take great satisfaction in chucking it into the garbage truck upon your return a few hours later. Stick around to watch the crusher thingy smash and push it all up into the hopper.

Good riddance, winter.

Or just leave your bags on the roadside and let the event organizers know where they are. I’m bringing a truck and some help. I’ll come get it for you.

Then grab lunch there at the Port. Because, why not? It’s being provided for free, after all. And it’s a great opportunity to trade stories with your fellow pickers about the treasures and travesties you collected that morning.

Then as you drive away, smile a little bigger, taking pride in a job well done and a community that shines a bit brighter because its people…because WE came together to make it so.

Welcome to OUR home.

Certainly, you’re welcome to take more than one day this spring for some community cleaning. Encouraged, even. But Saturday is the only day you’ll have open access to the smasher thing in the back of the garbage truck. Unless you time your neighborhood trash route just right, maybe. I’m not sure about that one…

And picking trash or doing yardwork are certainly not the only reasons to get outside these days. There’s something way tastier waiting to be picked out in the woods, though it’s much harder to spot than a soggy grocery sack in a road ditch. I’m referring of course to morel mushrooms.

The spring rains and recent batch of warm weather have created pretty spectacular conditions for morels this year and since I’m sure nobody posts anything misleading online, it appears that there have been some pretty decent hauls already.

In Des Moines County, mushroom hunting is allowed in all parks and conservation areas except for Starr’s Cave Preserve. As a state preserve, Starr’s Cave is a no-take property. Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures. But places like Big Hollow, Hunt Woods, and even the city parks are all fair game.

Just remember, sharing is caring. Park staff like mushrooms too!

This time of year, there’s lots to do and you probably don’t need any encouragement to get outside. Cabin fever needs treated, and some sunshine is just the remedy. Just be sure to work in some time in nature and of course, take some time this Saturday to help us clean up our town.

See you there!

published Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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