Two Kinds of Trash

Since last March, when the world ended, I have been doing a lot of bike rides from my house. There are plenty of quiet roads right out my front door, as long as you don’t mind dead flat and straight tarmac.

Cycling around San Joaquin County I have observed a couple of disturbing trends. First, the amount of trash and litter on the sides of the road is shocking. Not just cans and plastic bottles and discarded anti-Covid masks either. It seems lots of people are home with time to clean up their junk, but they do not want to pay the fee at the county landfill. So they pick a deserted stretch of rural farmland and create their own dumpsite.

Not Hard to Find in the San Joaquin

This occasionally happens on Brumby Road, but not often. Over the years we have picked up a couple of discarded big screen TV’s and a washing machine. We also had two autos set on fire late at night. It is quite disconcerting to be awakened by a ‘boom’ of exploding tires, then look outside and see the sky ablaze. But our little dead end road looks a bit intimidating for any garbage dumpers who want a quick getaway, so discarded trash has not been a big issue for us.

But in much of the county the mess is shocking. Even at a busy intersection such as Eight Mile Road at Highway 99, there are piles of garbage. An awful eyesore.

Another kind of ‘trash’ appears to be the wine grape vineyards around Lodi. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of acres of grapes ripped out and piled high for disposal by fire. And many of the grapes still in place have shriveled bunches on the vines, indicating that the fruit was not harvested.

Since you can’t make any money from an unharvested crop or from a removed vineyard, I wonder how the owners expect to pay their property taxes. Or what they intend to plant. Lodi is supposed to be a premium wine grape region and their grapes are supposed to rival the high end California Appellations of Napa and Sonoma and the Central Coast. But there must be too much of a good thing.

Stoker and I certainly do our part to help the world wine industry prosper, although our favorite flavors come from southern France. But it seems there are not enough wine consumers like us to drink everything Lodi produces. So some very pretty vineyards have become a different kind of trash.

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