by Susan and Bob Meyer
Ask anyone who lives in Eastman and you will hear the same thing: one of the most beautiful things about our community is the natural environment. We enjoy the environment for so many reasons, but chief among them is the invitation to slow down and enjoy the beauty and tranquility that nature offers. It’s hard to soak it all in from the windows of a car driving through the community, so we walk! People in Eastman walk a lot, whether it is taking advantage of the hiking trails or walking on the roads – Eastman is walker-friendly.
For years, we have tried to walk two to three miles a day, wherever we are. We’ve walked in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and many communities across multiple states. In Eastman, we walk along the roads and on the hiking trails. One of the first things we noticed when we began walking in Eastman is that, compared to other places we have walked in the United States, the roads here are mostly free of litter. Occasionally we would see a discarded can or piece of trash, but one of the first observations our daughter made was about the relative lack of litter.
We start our walk each day at our home on the east side of the lake. From there, we regularly walk Road Round the Lake from the dam to East Cove, up Clearwater Drive to the solar array, and out Wellfield Road to Buck Common. Sometimes we walk the loop that goes from Wellfield to White Tail Ridge, out to Logging Trail then back to Bright Slope Way and Road Round the Lake. Periodically, we change things up and park the car at the boat wash to walk from there to the main entrance and back (on both the entrance and exit sides). Soaking in the beauty of nature (and once again realizing that the only thing in Eastman that is flat is the lake) is wonderful.
As we walk, we’ve made a habit of carrying along a bag for collecting whatever is not “of nature” that we encounter. We’ve had many adventures in roadside pickup, and we find many things that nature did not leave on our roadsides. Many people who live in Eastman can tell you the most common things that appear are those bright blue Bud Light cans and bottles, other beer bottles, small liquor bottles, and soft drink cans. Fast food litter, including McDonald’s takeout boxes, Dunkin’ Donut wrappers, cups, paper towels and napkins, and cigarette packs are also common, along with an occasional pizza box.
But then sometimes we find some truly unusual and interesting things – a paddleboard paddle lay in a ditch up near East Cove once. We don’t know how it got there, but a set of pruning loppers lay in a ditch near Bright Slope Way. One day we found a pair of safety goggles along the road – must have fallen off someone’s truck. And then there was a nicely finished sample of a cabinet door in the woods off Eastman Road. Perhaps one of the most unusual things we found recently is a collection of what appears to be appliance installation parts – screws, nuts, washers, small wrenches, etc. Who knows where they come from – the birds and the bears?
Most of us don’t notice a lot of things on the roadside when driving. When we first started picking things up, we noticed the things that were within the first five feet or so from the roadside. As we walked more, we started noticing items several feet deeper into the woods, and it became something of a mission – if we could see it, there was a challenge to pick it up. Walking along Eastman Road, this often entailed climbing over the guardrail and down steep embankments. This often led to a large cache of six or more beer cans in the same area. The largest volume of litter has been found along Eastman Road, between the boat wash and the main entrance. Last spring, after the snow melt, that area was the source of two large trash bags full of things! Even in early February, it’s not uncommon to find on the order of 30 cans in this area.
Keeping Eastman beautiful is a community responsibility. We know we are not the only ones who make a habit of practicing “if you see it, pick it up.” We’ve been making it a family affair! Our 2 ½-year-old granddaughter is frequently up from Boston on the weekends with her parents. We have been taking her with us when we walk. We use a four-foot-long “picker” to pick up objects to put in a collection bag for trash or recycling. Last summer we found a set of child-sized pickers which are just right for her, and now she says, “I have pickers just like Grandpa.” Another generation – keeping Eastman beautiful!
Susan and Bob Meyer…