Picking Cigarette Butts

A man and a woman are sweeping the grass in the park. He with a broom; she with a whisk broom and dustpan. They are slowly filling a garbage bag. Who are they? Kindly, concerned neighbours? On a Sunday? But, why sweep the grass?

Following my meandering dog, I make my way over to say hi, and to joking ask, after remarking that the weather today is wonderful after that snow squall and heavy north wind of yesterday, "Why are you sweeping the grass?"

She says, squatting, filling her dust pan, "Cigarette butts."

"My goodness," I say, looking around. "The grass is filled with butts." And then a speel, "I hate how people throw live butts. My dog has almost stepped on lit cigarettes a few times, I really have to watch. And my neighbours threw a lit butt a few summers ago over the fence into dried sticks and leaves - we were in a drought." (I didn't say that that day I yelled back over the fence, 'Please put your butts out first - that hit dried sticks here, and good thing I was here to put it out for you.' And that the people in that backyard behind the very high very enclosed fence didn't say a word but went inside immediately.)

"Community work," she says. "We have to do so many hours cleaning cigarette butts in all the parks. There's people doing this all over the city."

"Wow. Well, it's healthy and good, and hope you're not too sore tomorrow!" (She is squat walking sweeping close to the ground.)

"Me too! Thanks." "Enjoy the rest of the day!" "You too."



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