Why is a Leaside columnist involving himself in the spring cleanup of the Beltline, which extends from the west side of Mount Pleasant to the Allen Expressway?
There is a very Leaside-ish prelude to the Beltline: take the Bayview Avenue entrance to Mount Pleasant Cemetery all the way to its exit to the Beltline proper at Mt. Pleasant Road and Merton Street. Of course, many consider Leaside’s western border as Mt. Pleasant.
In any case, if you’re walking it or jogging it or riding it or pushing a stroller on it, you may want to go the whole nine yards, which here would mean about four kilometres twixt Mt. Pleasant and the Allen, and perhaps another 4 km back.
What can take the edge off enjoying this old railway route—treed on both sides, with the backyards of houses beyond the trees—is the garbage that accumulates after the spring and fall community cleanups.
And accumulate it does, alarmingly.
The most aesthetically appealing times for taking in the Beltline’s splendours are during spring or fall, for the month following the cleanup.
I like to be charitable and speculate that 99 percent of the detritus is deposited there by one percent of Beltline users.
Whoever is doing it, a lot of the discarded yucky crapola winds up in bona fide thickets alongside the path. Volunteer cleaner-uppers who venture into said thickets are asking for trouble.
At the very least, you want to be wearing glasses to avoid having an eye poked out by a protruding twig that you didn’t notice because you were fixated on some Holy Grail-ishly magnetic item of litter in the underbrush, perhaps a giant-sized plastic Pepsi bottle. But those nasty twigs can go after an eyeball from the side too, so I was determined to out-think the collective twiggery by donning an old scuba mask with prescription glass, the prescription a bit dated but not prehistoric.
So I became the cleanup crew’s go-to guy for slogging through naked twig-daggered foliage.
I have to say that, mask or not, when I had to climb up slippery ravine-like slopes through such obstacles to snag my prey, it was the most aggravating de-littering I have ever engaged in. Certainly, absent the scuba mask, such ventures would have terminated at Sunnybrook Hospital. No, cleanup dads, do not send your kids where only Scuba-Man should go.
I admit, when one volunteer questioned Scuba-Man’s lack of complementing flippers and wet-suit, I momentarily regretted my incomplete committal to the role. But soon I was caught up in my own heroics and feeling rather superhero-ish.
Were any passersby inspired by the spectacle?
Did some cry out, “Thank-you Scuba-Man?” Did any pregnant stroller-pusher declare that her unborn child would now be named Scuba-Man, even if it were a girl?
One woman did shout out, “Thank-you Scuba-Man,” but it was the volunteer I mentioned and she did it because I prompted her. In fact, no one shouted any such encouraging words.
Maybe it was the weirdo factor. You don’t want to be drawn into conversation with a weirdo in a scuba mask who might just follow you home. I swear, though, I wouldn’t have. Irritatingly, I did overhear passersby thanking other de-litterers amongst the crew.
Maybe I should deploy the flippers and wetsuit next time, and flop around in the Beltline’s watery ditches with a spear-gun.
Right. Dream on Scuba-Man.
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