The Big Pickup

Albany’s annual spring cleaning event provided me with a great opportunity to do something out of the ordinary with my grandson this weekend while performing a small act of service for the community.  Porter (almost 2) and I showed up at Simpson Park Saturday morning prepared to pick up litter or do whatever we were told.  Porter has been introduced to the world of work by way of a backpack he occupies while his parents or grandparents are mowing the lawn, tending flowers, or, at least on one occasion, cutting wood.  He has great supervisory experience.

We chose to help out with cutting back blackberry bushes along the trail next to Cox Creek and Talking Water Gardens after receiving good instructions from a local school science teacher.  Porter quickly decided I could do better work if I let him get down to play on the Garden side of the trail.  I was a little surprised at how good he was for the two hours I spent cutting and piling blackberry brush.  Porter found his own snacks in the backpack and entertained himself by eating, watching grandpa work, and occasionally wandering down into the wetlands (dry at the moment).

The Big Pickup is, to me, another example of the healing power of service.  It is so easy to become absorbed or distracted by the demands of everyday life or the countless entertainment options most of us enjoy that it’s easy to forget about the greater community and the satisfaction we can earn by simply lending a hand.  I find that whenever I’m feeling down or fatigued the chance to be of service to someone always seems to make me feel better.  My problem is that the good feelings are too easily overwhelmed by the dread associated with taking on another obligation.  This weekend was a good reminder that the obligations are often what make life worthwhile.  Porter will soon forget his morning outing, but I never will.

I appreciate all the hard work that went into organizing the Pickup and the many hours of labor contributed by people throughout the community.  I met some nice people from Betaseed and got a chance to chat with Mayor Konopa, who was registering participants.  Heather Slocum, Marilyn Smith, Lynn Hinrichs, Rick Barnett, Kim Kagelaris, Ron Humphries, Tom Ten Pas, Mary Gaeta, and Bret Johnson were all major contributors to organizing this year’s event and making it successful.  The purpose of the Big Pickup is to do some cleaning and focus on the importance of keeping Albany an attractive place.  I was glad to be a small part of that and even happier for a few hours in the sun with Porter.