Column 2, Albany Advertiser 3/8/2010

Down on the beach I am known to many as “the guy with the cut off pants”.
Or “the guy who is always picking stuff up”. And sometimes, simply, “that guy”.
Those who walk regularly along that wonderful stretch of coast between Ellen Cove and Emu Point don’t have time to get names, we’re too busy walking, getting our daily, breathing that air direct off the Antarctic, embracing the Great Southern Ocean.
Yes, I said embrace, even at this time of the year. I can tell you, there is nothing more bracing than walking into the Great Southern and allowing the freeze to creep up your body until you no longer have any feeling below the waist.
Then there’s the first dive, oh, help me please. That’s when the freeze takes charge of your head and leaves you bereft of thought, sensibility, memory, or taste and when you are done and the ocean spits you on the beach like the rag you are you run like hell for those hot showers.
Who is responsible for those hot showers?
This person should be nominated for Citizen of the Winter Months.
I love this person. I will care for this person in old age and deliver chocolates and garlic to his or her door on demand, on request, at any time of day or night.
Excuse me, I left the scene of the column. This offering was to be about the debris I find on the beach. Deviations, be warned, will occur regularly.
The debris gets to me. I can’t help myself. Have to pick it up.
In the beginning I only picked up the big stuff, the plastic bags, nappies, tin cans, plastic bottles, large lumps of poly something or other and large clumps of fishing line.
I walked by the small stuff, thinking, well that won’t cause any harm. It won’t kill anything.
Then I read about the swirls. The swirls changed my attitude. Now I pick up every single item, no matter how big, how small, even if it’s not there and I can’t see it.
What are the swirls? Good question.
Out  there, in the big blue yonder, as you can imagine, people are dumping all kinds of trash into bays, off ships, into rivers, drains and much of it finds its way, eventually, in to our great oceans.
And when it gets there it floats along, inanimate, sometimes swallowed by an unsuspecting fish or mammal, but often just floating, drifting in the currents, taken along by ocean movement, until it meets a swirl.
A swirl is an eddy like current that collects stuff and sends it around and around and around forever and ever.
They are like cities of waste in the middle of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans and to attempt to remove them would be to cause havoc and destruction to all other creatures in the immediate vicinity.
There are a number of massive swirls in the planet’s great oceans, packed tight with human debris and there is not a thing we can do about it, except hang our heads in shame.
Oh, two other things: don’t dump your stuff and, if you are not a dumper, do the planet a favour and pick up the dumpers dumping as soon as you see it.
Ps: From now on I will refer to Perth as The Big Swirl and Canberra as The Pig Swirl.

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