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Running Faster

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[Today’s run: 3.5 miles]

I did the regular 3.5 mile route in about 35 minutes today. That is by wall-clock, I wasn’t wearing a watch or GPS. And it includes stopping to pick up a couple of pieces of trash.

Mississippi is not a clean state. People throw their trash everywhere. If you go to Wal-Mart or a gas station, the parking lot will be full of trash. Country roads have trash in the ditches, sometimes an old television.

So when I run on our little road I try to pick up an item or two. I don’t climb over the fence to get to the stuff in the fields. But there is no lack of easy pickings.

Paper goods seem to disintegrate pretty quickly. We have lots of ants and other bugs and they work that stuff over. Plastic drink bottles, aluminum cans, and glass bottles are pretty much there forever. Surprisingly, I don’t see a lot of plastic grocery bags. Someone on our street drinks these small bottles of cheap whiskey and smokes menthol cigarettes and must pop ibuprofen. Maybe it is a group effort. A lot of the trash is from food places. Somebody is partial to Popeyes chicken. (I’m more for Church’s Chicken myself.) Picking that kind of stuff up during the summer can get you a handful of fire ants. I usually try to give it a bang on the ground or a shake to get the ants off.

I see this as another symptom of the way Mississippians sell themselves short. Like many rural areas, they seem to have a bit of a “well, what do you expect?” attitude. When we first moved here I took a wheel borrow and went down our street picking up trash with a rake. One of my neighbors stopped and thanked me for doing that. He made a comment which was derisive of our other neighbors being litter-ers, in a what-do-you-expect-from-these-people kind of way. I thought, well that may be the case but you could be picking it up. Proud people with low expectations.

You’ll notice my use of the 2nd person. I don’t feel myself to be a Mississippian. I’m still an Iowan. I think I could have been a Coloradoan if I had stayed there longer. I like the people in Mississippi. They are good to me. And I like my circumstances. But I still think of it as an exotic place and my stay as temporary. If I were to die and get my own choice of where to be buried, I would choose the cemetery in Pleasant Hill, across from where I used to go to Boy Scouts, where my nephew Luke is buried. But I’m not going to be deciding that and whoever does has my permission to do whatever suits them at the time.

Jan 15, 2018
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