The Dark Side – A Place Like Mayberry part 2
(If you haven’t read Part 1 to this story – A place like Mayberry, please read it first)
I was raised with the mantra “If you can’t say something good then don’t say anything at all.” I guess that has stuck with me and perhaps part of the reason why most of the words that I write and share are painted with big wide brushes of blues, greens and yellows and hopefully end at places leaving any readers with a smile or a warm feeling inside. It’s just my nature to promote the positive and to not shed much light on negative things. Yep, I know…. rose colored glasses. When I shared the story of life in Mayberry, I knew inside that there were plenty of things about being “Andy” – a camp host volunteer, that weren’t glamorous. Sure I could tell you about some of the “Barney’s” and the “Gomer’s” that put kinks in our day, but it felt so good to share some of the wonderful things about living in a campground and ending the story with Aunt Bee coming over to me with a delicious plate of something amazing.
I’ve taken off my rose colored shades and there actually is a dark side to Mayberry, an underground version… if you will.
It’s morning when I awake and look outside my window and instead of feeling like I’m Andy and living in a Mayberrian utopia, today I find myself on the set of Mad Max and I’m Max. Sure, there are the pleasant waves of “hello”, but within some of them…. I know there is an army of the tyrannical Immortan Joe. We’ll start with the beautiful little kids. Yes, it’s wonderful to watch them ride their bikes and laugh and play, but sometimes the parents feel so safe in this Mayberry that they let the campground become their day-care, drop all reins, turn in the other direction and drift off into adult conversation while they sit back and enjoy cocktails. All sorts of boundaries are pushed within minutes. The darlings begin climbing trees like monkeys (which are protected with signs with large print everywhere to remind everyone). They’re breaking branches, running and screaming in circles around a campsite that is home to a quiet couple in their sixties who came to what they thought was Mayberry for a peaceful weekend getaway. Instead of bicycles, nowadays they have these electric scooters the kids ride that sound like a mini tornado as they scoot up and down and up and down and up and down the road. They wear helmets with fake spiked hair attached. They carry armed water guns. Once they form a pack – it’s over. The volume levels go from loud to “Good God I can’t hear myself think”. Somehow in their minds they have forgotten that they have come to a public place that is shared by everyone and their glazed eyes read, “It’s SUMMER CAMP – WOO HOO – FREE FOR ALL – NO RULES! Hey Timmy let’s stop up the toilets and make the bathroom sinks run over. Wouldn’t it be cool to pull up the stakes of the tent of those old people over there when they are sleeping.” The 10:00 pm quiet hour doesn’t come too soon. The Mom and Dad’s finally pull in the leashes and peace is once again restored in Mad Max-ville.
Actually it’s when they pull up their camp and leave that I get to see a truer picture on what is inside my fellow neighbors. I ride my buggy over to a recently departed campsite and see the fire still burning in their pit. I look around and my mouth drops open. What happened to the saying “Take Nothing But Pictures, Leave Nothing But Footprints”. These….. (I’m not sure of the word to use, so I’ll go with…) un-Humans turned their campsite into a dump disposal. For thirty minutes I pickup countless cigarette butts, two handfuls of just the end of Hershey’s Chocolate bar wrappers, beer cans, and pieces of food scattered in the dirt. I dig through the pile of filth smoldering in the fire pit and pull out an old towel, a dozen cans of scorched something, more nasty food, and a plastic bag of contents that I couldn’t distinguish and didn’t want to. I look out to the clear babbling brook running beside their camp and my heart sinks and I feel a lump form in my throat. These tyrannical Immortan Joes sat by the creek and pitched their food scrapes into the water, flicked their butts across to the other side, left mountain dew cans and sank mountain dew cans, forgot their babies full diaper and left a scar on the delicate shore where they climbed and scampered back and forth. My heart hurt as I waded the creek and picked up after these un-Humans. They were here in this stunning, magnificent, natural splendor for only two nights. When I left I had 4 grocery bags full of their waste and a taste in my mouth that took two days to swallow and forget. How can we all be from the same maker?
“This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to the New York Island….” When ever we enter our city, state and national parks, natural areas, forests and other preserved and protected places, we must remember that these are OUR sacred places. They belong to all of US as citizens. We own them. They are the treasures left for us by our ancestors. Leaving trash, letting our kids (and adults) climb and harm protected trees, polluting the quiet of nature, poisoning the rivers, and scaring the earth is only hurting ourselves.
We all don’t pop out into this world understanding the value and delicateness of nature. Some of us aren’t lucky enough to have been taught the lessons early on about treading lightly and walking without leaving a trace. I try to understand and remember that and I do my best to still love those tyrannical Immortan Joe’s. But ya know, in spite of my days every now and then walking as Mad Max, most days I really am Andy Taylor and I do happily live in places that feel like Mayberry.
Robert Frost – To The Thawing Wind
Come with rain. O loud Southwester!
Bring the singer, bring the nester;
Give the buried flower a dream;
Make the settled snowbank steam;
Find the brown beneath the white;
But whate’er you do tonight,
Bath my window, make it flow,
Melt it as the ice will go;
Melt the glass and leave the sticks
Like a hermit’s crucifix;
Burst into my narrow stall;
Swing the picture on the wall;
Run the rattling pages o’er;
Scatter poems on the floor;
Turn the poet out of door.