butts on the beach


We went to the beach this weekend.

My youngest son turned 4 and he’s really excited about staying at motels…and he’s really excited about the beach…so we decided to kill two birds and stay at a motel on this trip.

It was beautiful.  The weather was perfect.  Warm but not overly hot, dry after a wet summer, the crowds had thinned out some after Labor Day…it was great.

You really did have to wonder just how many butts one beach could hold, though.

I’m talking about cigarette butts, of course.

My father told me once about “field stripping”….taking the cigarette down to the bare essentials and basically shredding it so the wind could carry it all away.

You’d strip the paper off the filter and then kind of shred everything and it would be quicker to decompose.

I don’t think anyone at the beach who loved to smoke and stare off into the wild blue beyond the horizon had ever heard of this technique.

It was one huge sandy ash tray.

There’s something pretty gross about having to sift out the butts before you could build a sand castle.

But maybe ecology is only the study of our natural environment…. and sandy beaches with a high proportion of cigarette butts is the new norm?

Maybe “nasty” is the new norm?

I hope not.

If I went to the beach and all I took away from it was how dirty the beach was, it would be pretty sad.

That’s really not what the trip was all about.

It was beautiful in its own way.  If you turned the right direction and only saw the ocean and the long strip of sand before it disappeared into the water, you could almost feel kind of “natural”.

You could almost feel the pull of the endless blue…stretching out farther than the eye could see.

Then, if you rotated 180 degrees, you could always ground yourself again and remember that you were smack dab in the middle of touristville.

This particular beach is kind of known for being kind of skeezy…so I shouldn’t be surprised if I see a few cigarette butts.

I was surprised not to see more McDonald’s bags and used ketchup packets, though.

It seems like they’d go hand in hand…but except for all the butts, the beach was fairly clean.

I don’t think that people go to the beach for the beach these days, though.

It seems like they must go for the boardwalk and the 35 dollar seafood buffets…the hot tub and the parasailing, funnel cakes and shopping and riding their hogs up and down the main drag, tattoos and piercing and lots of cigarettes on the beach.

It’s a family beach, too.  I’m curious what the beaches are like that aren’t considered family beaches.

I guess the places that are “easy” are sometimes kind of sleazy.

It’s like some of the trails I’ve hiked on…until you get beyond the “wheeze” envelope, they can be pretty nasty. Until you get beyond where it’s easy to waddle out into the woods, you don’t get a chance to avoid the by-products of humanity.  You don’t get a chance to miss all the trash until you’re willing to work a little to avoid it.

With the beach, there’s only so far people can go, so what else do they have to do but sit down in the sand and smoke another pack?

I love the beach. We had a fun and fine time. My son had a great birthday.

In spite of all the butts on the beach.

I don’t think our four-year old even noticed all the butts in the sand.

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