I received a clutchy stick for Christmas. For your information a clutchy stick is one of those unfoldable sticks with the claw on the end that are used to pick up rubbish. Later, on my birthday, I received a pair of work gloves. Lest you think this is the beginning of a confession for some bizarre fetish permit me to reassure you I had completely non-sexual reasons for requesting these gifts.
A block or so behind my home is a golf course and through that golf course flows the Cooks River. It is fair to say that the Cooks River has had its ups and downs since the coming of the white man (and by extension white women and children). First it was a fishing resource, then a sewer, then an industrial run off zone (and sewer) and finally (somewhat improbably) a place to put expensive "riverside" housing. We really have buggered the Cooks River about quite a bit culminating in completely changing the mouth. The mouth of the river used to enter Botany Bay where the airport currently sits so engineers sat down and had a brief chat with the river about the benefits of cosmetic surgery and moved the mouth several kilometres away from its original location.
Despite all of the messing about and a spectacular level of pollution bits of the Cooks River are beginning to be remediated as humanity does its usual trick of annihilating 98% of something and then becoming insanely protective of the remainder. Bits (rather small bits) of the concrete river banks have been broken down and improved by being returned to something approximating their natural state. Back in the 1930s of course they thought they were improving the river by lining it with concrete in the first place. While the river still isn't anything you'd want to expose your naked flesh to the fact that fish have returned is considered a positive sign. I don't actually know if fish have returned but the presence of numerous signs warning you to under no circumstances eat any fish you catch can be considered indicative.
Marrickville Golf Course hugs the riverbank for part of its journey and a narrow strip near the water's edge can be walked along (any golf ball induced concussion is your own problem). I walk along there quite often as there are trees, birds and a river. I listen to the rustle of lizards in the grass, birds in the trees and the hysterical cursing of golfers as their balls refuse to go where they want. As I do so I gaze at the mangroves that line the river. The thing that mainly meets my gaze is rubbish. Any river that flows through an urban area is naturally going to pick up a fair bit of junk and that junk gets deposited wherever the land is flat enough to do so. I got so irritated by this that I decided I wanted a clutchy stick and now when the mood takes me I wander down to the river with my clutchy stick and pick up rubbish. I have no illusions that I am making any sort of dent in the river's overall pollution issues. I'm only one person and a lazy, easily distracted one into the bargain. Nevertheless I find it somewhat therapeutic and its pleasant to get out into nature albeit a rather messy part.
Today the sun was hot so hanging out at a river bank was a marginal improvement on hanging out at my flat. I squelched through the mangroves picking up bits and pieces while birds hurled themselves into the river (more proof that there were fish unless the birds had just decided on a disgusting form of suicide) while from the golfcourse just above me came the sharp crack of club on ball followed by the traditional four letter cry of the golfer. "Fuck!" Followed by, "did anybody see where that went?"
With my bag full I left them to it and wandered home. On a completely unrelated note if anybody needs any secondhand golf balls I am totally your man.