Op-Ed: Two birds with one stone

Practicing for Town Clean-up Day
April 19, 2010
by Bruce Cranston

It was early on a beautiful Saturday morning. I lay in bed thinking about all the things I might do today:  re-grout the tile in the laundry room; unclog the kids’ toilet; I could even clean out the guinea pig cage. 

Or I could just roll over and go back to sleep.

I turned to look at my normally industrious better half, Cathy, sleeping uncharacteristically late.  What was she dreaming about?  Normally she would be up and out already, peripatetically organizing her menu around tonight’s Blanquette de Veau , all the while cogitating on the pattern for the quilt she was making from old silk neckties. During “breaks” she would be mentally reviewing the fingering of the Schubert sonata she was playing at the piano salon later that afternoon.  I asked her what she was doing today (as if I didn’t know!).  “I’m going to go out to pick up rocks and garbage,” she murmured sleepily.

“What?”  I was incredulous.  “Who are you?  And what have you done with my wife?”

“No, really!  There’s a bunch of new rocks left over from the winter snowplowing.  I can harvest them for the backyard labyrinth.” (Don’t ask).

I bought the part about the rocks, but the garbage pickup?  I couldn’t believe my ears.  For years I have been telling anyone who will listen about all the trash I clean up as the kids and I walk back and forth to the bus stop. But those bragging rights hit a brick wall this year when my seventh grader announced I was “wronging” her with my early morning stupid-grin-and-wave for all the bus to see. 

So throughout this past fall and winter the litter has been mounting up, and now that the snow is gone, it stands out like acne on a middle schooler’s forehead.

Cathy walked down the driveway outfitted with wheelbarrow (for the rocks), plastic bag (for the litter) and gloves (for the manicure). I shouted, “Wait, I have to take your picture.”  I wanted tangible proof that something I had said to her had actually had an impact.  Of course, this was not the case.  My wife, the quintessential show-me skeptic has never once taken any of my lifestyle suggestions seriously.  (Has any spouse ever?)  My idea of a good time on Saturday is a hearty gutter-cleaning.  How can that begin to compete with the joy of searing lamb chops in a red wine reduction?

But there she was, in all her Loro Piana glory, multi-tasking her way down towards Route 120, first hoisting a rock, then stuffing a Snickers wrapper in the trash bag. I knew without a doubt that for once I had thought of it first, and I also knew it didn’t matter.  What mattered was she was outside enjoying the early spring sunshine, and beautifying the ‘hood – and I have the picture to prove it!

This year, Town Clean-up Day is Saturday, April 24, from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.  Sign up at town hall, or by emailing .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  Leave your name and the name of the street or area you’ll tidy.  It’s as easy as a fifteen minute walk up and down your street picking up whatever you can find that doesn’t belong there.

Editor’s note: This op-ed piece is “NEW” this year, but “recycled” from last year’s April 24, 2010 edition.

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