By John Kanelis
SEA RIM STATE PARK, Texas -- I am married to an anti-littering militant.
I have known it for the nearly five decades of our married life, but I saw it on full display on a morning walk along the Texas Gulf Coast.
We sauntered onto the beach from our fifth wheel. Immediately, she became incensed at what she saw ... and what she began to collect on our stroll. I figure we must have picked up close to a 40 pounds of trash on our walk of several hundred yards.
I am proud of her, as you might surmise.
The point she made struck home with me. Why come to the great outdoors, enjoy nature and then soil it with this kind of trash? We understand fully, though, that a lot of trash washes ashore from offshore -- from seagoing vessels and from the oil platforms one can see from the beach.
In the early 1980s, the General Land Office launched its anti-littering campaign, labeling it "Don't Mess With Texas." The phrase over time has been perverted to connote some sort of macho statement about Texas and Texans. However, it means simply that we shouldn't toss litter onto our landscape.
I get it, and I assure you my bride certainly gets it.
Let me be clear on this matter: We are proud supporters of our state parks. We intend to see them all before we no longer are able to haul our fifth wheel around our immense state. I also am proud of the way Texas Parks & Wildlife cares for our parks. TP&W does a stellar job of keeping them well-groomed, which makes them so attractive to us. We have quite a few more parks to go before we reach our see-them-all goal, but we’ve been to parks from the Trans-Pecos to the Rio Grande Valley, the Gulf Coast, the Panhandle, and to the Piney Woods of East and Northeast Texas.
It's no one's fault here at Sea Rim State Park that the beach is littered with too much trash. The fault lies with the nimrods who come here, as my wife says, to "enjoy nature" only to sully it with their trash. The fault also lies with the seagoing vessel crews and the dipsticks who work on those platform way out there on the horizon.
To those who aren't as careful as they should be about disposing of their trash, be forewarned: Don't mess with Mrs. Kanelis.
John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, is also a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is now retired, but still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook, or his blog, www.highplainsblogger.com. Kanelis' blog for KETR, "Piece of Mind," presents his views, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of KETR, its staff, or its members.
Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy.