As a prospector, when I pick up litter, I also examine it, to see just what I have found. It could be interesting, valuable, insightful, or even humorous. You just never know.

One time I found a note. My guess is it was two teenage girls passing a note back and forth between them in class and they were commenting on some of the other students in class and the teacher. It was actually pretty funny. Well worth the read. However, those girls would probably be mortified, if its contents became public. So, I threw it in with the rest of the litter.

I have found a summons for a named individual to appear in court. It was all crumpled up, so I suspect the person intentionally threw it on the ground. I have also found a few parking tickets like that. So littering is not the only law or rule some individuals break.

photo courtesy of Walt Humphries
“If I find a cash register receipt, I read it,” columnist Walt Humphries writes. “I know what litterers buy, eat and drink.”

If I find a cash register receipt, I read it. Just to see what the litterers had bought. It’s all part of woodland lore, to learn as much about the other critters on the planet, as you can. I know what litters buy, eat and drink.

Litterers drink a lot of beer, vodka, and other liquors. Litterers also seem to smoke a lot. This year I found several small plastic thingies, which I later learned were vaping pods. So, some are switching to vaping but are still littering.

I think someday I should write a Field Guide on Litterers and their preferred habitat.

I have also found the butt ends of marijuana cigarettes. Sometimes called a blunt, stub, spliff, stompy, gasper or roach. Pot may be legal, but a butt on the ground is litter and illegal.

On the roadside I once found a stainless-steel silver-plated ornate looking fork from the Ming dynasty. Maybe it had been lost in 1820 by the Sir John Franklin expedition that passed through the Yellowknife area. That would make it an extremely valuable artifact. Or it might be even older and have come across the land bridge at the Bering Sea, where people crossed over near the end of the last ice age. They probably brought forks with them. Now, I will admit, either explanation is somewhat fanciful, but when you find a treasure, one can only speculate.

I found a box from a local fast food restaurant. All the food was gone but inside there were some clean and unused napkins, a plastic fork still in a plastic wrapper and four of those little plastic pouches of ketchup.

The plastic pouches probably cost more then the ketchup they contained, but that is beside the point, in our plastic epoch.

Now, what would be the value of such a find. To me, picking up litter, it wasn’t worth much. But imagine a person lost in the woods for two weeks with nothing to eat.

Then they stumble across it. The napkins could be used as toilet paper and that would be a rather valuable find.

Also, as they waited for someone to drive by, which could be hours or days, they could cut the top off of a discarded beer can, fill it with water, add the ketchup, heat it up with a small fire and have some tomato soup. A “Tom Doornbos special”. It would probably be the best tasting tomato soup of their life. Priceless. If you don’t believe me, don’t eat anything for two weeks and give it a try.

I found a chalice. It was made from plastic and was in the shape of a skull. So what heathen, barbarian, satanical, gang, fraternity or pagan related rituals were people performing on the back roads around town. Were drugs and alcohol involved?

Did it belong with the fake spear point and axe head I found, I wondered? This is how you make cleaning up litter a little more fun, you try to imagine what the items are all about.

I also found a couple of those little glass liqueur bottles. They are pretty fancy. I remember seeing a home-made doll house once, and they had used those little bottles as lamp bases and vases. They looked quite good.

Just think of all the things a person could make, entirely out of litter. It boggles the imagination and a good imagination can make picking up litter a little more fun and exciting.

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