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Cleaning the Beach

Sand...and water

Sand…and water

I spent this morning helping pick up trash along Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Except they don’t call it “picking up trash” anymore; they call it “habitat restoration.” Maybe it helped them get a grant; I don’t know. All I know is that it’s an occasion for me to combine two of my favorite pastimes, walking along a beach and helping out the Earth.

It’s kind of ironic that we spend 364 days a year messing up the place and one day a year cleaning up after ourselves. Whatever happened to always leaving a place cleaner than we found it? We are so disconnected from the Circle of Life…

One of the other things I get to do while out walking the beach is let my mind wander and play in the surroundings. Ocean Beach is a fairly large expanse of sand – acres and acres, most of it above the high tide line. It’s got dunes, older, established ones and newer ones just beginning to emerge from beneath people’s footprints. And out amidst all that sand, my mind starts to wander to places from fiction, like Arrakis and Tattooine. Which leads to some very strange thoughts:

“The Jundland wastes are not to be traveled lightly…”

“Wow…someone wearing the same shoes as me must have come through here already today. Looks like they carved their name into the same type of tree as me. Wait – they have the same name I do! What are the odds of that?”


In addition to the various stairways down to the sand, there’s one ramp. It doesn’t look like the park vehicles have been using it, and I have to wonder if it was put in just so folks in wheelchairs could make it down to the sand, where their wheels would get stuck and they could be sacrificed to Shai-Hulud.

(Meanwhile, another part of my brain envisions wheelchairs with big balloon tires that float on the sand, sort of like dune buggies for the mobility-challenged.)

I picked up about a bucket’s worth of old bags, wrappers, bottle caps, and a whole lot of cigarette butts. I don’t know what they make cigarette filters out of, but it’ll outlast the cockroaches.

It was an interesting juxtaposition of opposites: sand and water, sun/sky and clouds, beach and cold weather – it barely cracked 60 there, and it’s not even summertime yet. (Mark Twain was definitely right, assuming he ever did actually say that.)

I didn’t just do this alone; I was in the company of some of the folks from the Latitude 38 Parrothead Club. After a couple of hours of reducing the amount of human detritus out in the sand, we settled in for a fine lunch and conversation, “partying with a purpose.”

Here are a couple more pictures from my day. Enjoy!

IMG_3355 IMG_3362

And one picture from downstairs at the Beach Chalet, showing a Krakenesque stairway ornament I liked:


What did you do this weekend?



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