Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Yamanote River Cleanup

This weekend the boys and I volunteered for a project cleaning the Yamanote River, a stream that runs through Zushi. We came prepared with lots of bug spray, old shoes, long barbecue tongs and baseball hats to keep the flies from bothering us. It first, it was fun. A group of about 20 of us joined a group of Japanese citizens in town, then listened to speeches drone on and on. Thank you for coming etc etc. The mayor was there is his jeans and tee shirt. A small local news crew was there to take our picture. The speeches were going well until a woman unwisely decided to translate: watch for eels, watch for snakes in the water. If anyone gets bitten, we will have an ambulance standing by. Nate began to hang on my arm in amost irritating way. The mayor, the photographer and many of the volunteers vanished quietly. Many of them also did not go down into the river bank area but walked alongside and looked down at us. It was very curious.
But my boys and I got down into the muck. And muck it was. Frankie found a whole toaster oven someone through in and a bag of manga thrown in under a bridge. Nate was a trooper until he finally fell on his tailbone on a rock, times three, and had to be helped out. The little river is its own amazing ecosystem. There were fish, crabs, poles which we were instructed to leave in for eels to use for nesting, and firefly larvae quietly brewing somewhere in the muck, getting ready for the late-June show. A pair of ducks angrily defended a patch of grass, and I found a tiny nest built from scraps of white fabric and bits of plastic bag. The day was warm with a slight breeze.

We were filthy and smelly by the end, but what a good day!

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