Mister Blue trashing the landscape
By TJ Ray
Let’s just call him Mister Blue. Truth is, I’ve never met him, though I’d very much like to. I’ve often thought of what I would say to him. Probably best that we don’t meet because he wouldn’t like what I might say.
On a wonderfully bright and comfortable day, I recently loaded my cameras and set off to see the world. This time my goal was to find a lake in the National Forest: Bagley Lake. Some local folks still call it Lost Lake. Wish I had gone when Bagley Tower still rose out of the pines. The vista was no doubt breathtaking.
Anyway, rolling up Woodson Ridge Road brought me to Dead Man’s Curve, and I angled off to the right up County Road 210. Pavement ran out, replaced by gravel.
In time, the gravel ran out and a gate barred further passage. Bagley Lake was about a half mile further, but I didn’t make the trek because of the two guys riding trail bikes, making all sorts of noise and tearing up the terrain.
All along the way blue spots dotted the shoulders of the road. Mister Blue had spent some time up there. Perhaps he, too, wanted to see if there were any great birds to photograph. But somehow that seemed unlikely as it is awkward to hold a blue can and a camera at the same time.
At one point the shoulder of the road gave way to a very sharp bank that went down far out of sight. Scattered along that precipice were several mattresses, an old TV set and other junk. And a number of blue cans.
At times in the past, county roads close to Oxford would see people in jail garb, monitored by a deputy sheriff, picking up trash. A lot of blue cans vanished as they moved down roads. In time that process was halted, and the County hired a crew of people to do litter abeyance, but resources don’t stretch far enough to cover Mister Blue’s tracks all the way to Bagley Lake, or Tula or Puskus. Blue dots, though, do follow his travels. And if he happens to have an old air-conditioner or washing machine, it’s easy enough to leave it beside the road.
A psychologist might well ponder the mental labyrinth that results in thoughtless blighting of the public landscape. If he were to question Mister Blue, would he indeed find that dumping four trash bags of garbage beside a county road was done without thought? Is it possible that Blue has a mindset that raises him above concern for anyone else? Is he too lazy or too stupid to call the County solid waste folks to send out a truck to haul off his old junk? How threatening might he be if confronted by someone telling him to stop sprinkling blue cans over the landscape?
Well, blue cans are plentiful, though for the most part their contents taste horrible. And their casual distribution up and down roads will surely provide a mystery for some distant future ecologist to ponder over. A forensic analysis of the DNA found on the old cans will show that Mister Blue distributed his blue cans all around the area, usually at a start two miles from the city limits
TJ Ray is a retired professor of English at Ole Miss.