It was one of those days that come along every now and then in late spring or early summer.

It was as if Mother Nature decided to tease us by breaking away from scorching summer-like heat and monsoon rains and threw in a day or two of early mild, almost fall-like weather. It made a difference in my outlook, and I planned to take every advantage and head to the woods.

There’s a place on a nearby creek where I used to launch my canoe. I remembered the spot but hadn’t visited it in years. With the temperature hovering in the 70s, I thought today would be perfect to try out my new fly rod.

In no time, I had the truck loaded with fishing gear, a cooler and a gunning bag with some much needed snacks. I also strapped on my Ruger .22 pistol in case I had to dispatch an unruly cottonmouth. I fired up the old Bronco and headed south to the creek.

The little road down to the creek’s bank was almost grown over with saplings about 3 feet tall, but it was passable in the Bronco. I put her in four-wheel drive just to be sure, though.

On the side of the road, there was a small cut that turned out to be not much more than a fire break. I shouldered the truck under low hanging pine branches, stepped out and could hear the fast current of the creek.

An overgrown path, not used in a while, ran down to the bank from the small clearing where I had parked. I carefully eased my way through the undergrowth since the path looked like it could be home to a snake or two. I sure didn’t want to find out by stepping on one.

The narrow path opened to a clearing with a sandbar jutting out into the creek. The downstream bend was anchored by a giant cypress tree. The setting would have been absolutely beautiful if it didn’t look like a garbage dump.

Needless to say, I was really ticked off. I’d never seen such a pristine place ruined this badly by the hand of man. It was almost as if a recycling dump truck had unloaded all its refuse on the banks.

There were beer cans, empty bean and sardine cans, styrofoam containers, fast food wrappers and bags and plastic forks and spoons. It was a total mess.

Right out in the middle of the sand bar, a fire pit had been made with broken concrete blocks, and half burned tree branches hung out the sides almost to the water. Whoever built the monstrosity didn’t have the good sense to chop up the wood. The place was a disgrace.

I keep a small folding camp shovel in the back of the Bronco along with plastic garbage bags, so I went back to the truck, grabbed them along with my gunning bag and cooler and prepared to do some cleaning. It took a while.

There were too many cans to haul out so I dug a pit away from the creek, stomped the cans flat, dumped them in the hole and covered it. I put all the styrofoam and plastic in the bags to haul back to civilization.

Then I threw the concrete pieces from the fire-round out in the deep water and dragged the half-burned tree branches back in the woods.

Ready for a break, I got a drink from the cooler and some munchies from my gunning bag and sat down to wonder what kind of people would make such a mess in Mother Nature’s living room.

While I was sitting there, I realized how quiet everything was. There weren’t any bird calls or bird movement in the alders near the creek. The only sound was the soft gurgling of the black water as it moved around the bend. No wonder, I thought, forest animals don’t want to live in a mess like this. I bet even the fish have moved on.

Giving up the idea of fishing, I loaded everything in the back of the Bronco, trash bags included, and headed home. What had started out to be a wonderful day in the great outdoors turned into a wake-up call.

I realized that forest creatures are a little smarter than some supposedly more intelligent humans.

Even wild animals don’t dirty their nests.

Contact Tom Bryant at

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