LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
She wanted to spend Saturday standing in the rain with strangers. She wanted to pick up other people’s trash. I’m thinking we have plenty of trash within the comfort of our own home to pick up. It wasn’t my idea of a weekend getaway, but as a parent I didn’t really want to discourage community service either.
The Laurel Lake Cleanup has been held for 15 years and is part of Eastern Kentucky PRIDE’s Spring Cleanup Events. I have participated several times before and never regretted it. Saturday I expected to regret it. I regretted getting out of my warm bed and stepping into the rain until I stepped on a boat.
Grove Marina and Holly Bay donated boats to help with the cleanup. Strangers huddled together on a boat in these conditions seemed a bit like an episode of Survivor or Gilligan’s Island. There were young girls, old men, and a crying baby. We skimmed across the water looking for a cove that seemed trashy. Along the way we saw a lot of ducks, geese, and a half dozen otters. I had never seen wild otters, so that was unexpected.
Our first stop proved successful with the garbage bags loaded with an assortment of trash, including about 20 small propane tanks, a raft, and a portable gas grill.
We also had a comedian on board. One girl asked what we were going to do with the rusted out grill.
“We’re going to have a cookout later,” her friend quipped.
The second stop didn’t have quite the eclectic haul of the first, but Maggie did claim a great find. A pink elephant soap dish won her $25 for the most unusual trash of the day.
We also found three fishing baits that will be reconditioned and used. One needs new hooks and another needs a paint job. Looking for similar treasure led to my worst decision of the day. A fishing line box bobbed on the water and I tried to reach it, as much to see what was in it as to add it to the trash heap. Turns out waterproof boots aren’t waterproof when the water is deeper than the boot.
The trip back to the spillway took about an hour, but seemed longer with wet feet and freezing hands. Maggie had claimed my gloves early that morning. She sat on my lap as we made our way back to the land. Her cold nose tucked against my neck.
At the spillway we were treated to grilled hotdogs, chips, and snacks. The 200-plus volunteers were given tickets and a chance to win the many door prizes, which included bicycles, fishing gear, and pontoon rentals. We didn’t claim any prizes and drove home thinking of warm baths and warmer coffee.
The weather will get better and there will be more chances lend a hand to PRIDE.
May 5th will be the Woods Creek cleanup. Maggie wants to go there as well. I am not opposed if we can get a little cooperation from the weather this time. You can contact Jim Ed McDaniel at 878-6845 for more details on this event. You won’t regret it.