I blame Woodsy.
Do you remember Woodsy Owl? That 1970’s iconic character who asked us all to “give a hoot”? He marched purposefully through the woods as kids skipped behind him happily picking up discarded cans and litter.
I wanted to be one of those kids. I can skip, I’d think. I can pick up trash!
I wanted Woodsy to know I gave a hoot.
Flash forward thirty (or so) years. It’s wet and cold and I’m regretting not wrapping a scarf around my neck as the boys and I walk towards the high school gym for F.'s lacrosse clinic. I see a flash of white and I’m off like a shot. I chase the McDonald’s bag across three spaces before I reach down and grab it.
“Nice catch, Mom,” I. says.
I give him a smile which grows into an idea.
My kids love to hear stories from when I was “their size”. I sing to them Free to Be You and Me. I reenact my first grade ballet recital when I fell off the stage. A captive audience, they beg for more. I hate to disappoint.
I explain in painstaking detail who Woodsy Owl is and why people needed him. (Thank you, You Tube.) In the 70s, people dumped trash everywhere, I say. I remember seeing drivers toss trash from car windows barreling down the interstate for goodness sake. We needed Woodsy.
Together the boys and I sing, “So who’ll help Woodsy spread the word, never be a dirty bird. No matter where you go, you can let some people know. Give a hoot, don’t pollute. Never be a dirty bird. In the city or in the woods, help keep America looking good!”
His message rings true today. At 41, I realize I’d still skip happily behind him picking up trash.