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Monday, January 18, 2016

Edible Litter from the Valley...

Afoot in the Valley over the years I've come across many a strange item lying alongside the Tualco Loop Road. Most castoffs have been tools. I've brought home screwdrivers, pliers, a wrench or two (mostly metric), one of which, a hefty box end, could well have been used in the assembly of a 747. Just lately a sturdy paint scraper,... nuts and bolts and other assorted hardware. Nails, tacks, and screws I toss far out into the field to spare a motorist the hassle of having to haul out a spare tire to fix a flat. Stolen mail, condoms still in sealed packages (and others that were not), coins in denominations from a fifty cent piece down to a penny, thirty-seven of which I found littering a yard-long stretch of shoulder several years ago. And believe it or not, some years back on the First of April I found $1,000 in a muddy zip-loc bag.

Day before yesterday what to my wandering eyes did appear but a Snickers candy bar lying in the grass just off the shoulder. At first I thought the wrapper was one more item of litter tossed there by a passing litterbug. On closer inspection I found a fully wrapped, intact Snickers bar, regular size, lying there in the weeds as if it had fallen off the candy shelf at the grocery. "Hmmm," I thought, "this wasn't here yesterday.

Snickers bars and I have a history. In my other life, when I did my best to teach sophomores English as a foreign language, I used Snickers bars as leverage: I dangled them over a struggling student, "If you pass this test, this Snickers is for you." I mostly used them to build rapport with my students in friendly wagers on sporting events, major league baseball match-ups, championship and World Series games in particular.Whenever a student in one of my classes had a birthday, I gifted him or her with a bite-sized Snickers bar in a pre-wrapped gift box ("I need the box back," I'd tell them). Although in all honesty I prefer a Payday candy bar over a Snickers, I picked up the lonely bar for nostalgia's sake, stuffed it in my pocket and carried the roadside gift home for further scrutiny.

Both ends of the wrapper were neatly sealed, as was the seam, and in spite of its lying in the wet grass (a day or two? Overnight? Since morning?), the paper wrap was barely moist. The contents were not squashed, nor was the bar broken in half. Regardless if the sweet hunk came from Wal-Mart or Willie Wonka's chocolate factory, its contents: 250 calories, 12 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams of sat. fat, 27 grams of sugars, and 120 milligrams of sodium, remained well-sealed.

The question of the day: should I eat litter found lying alongside the road? But the the bar was still sealed in cellophane...not like it was opened, half eaten with a stranger's bite marks on the truncated remains. Not the same as fishing an uneaten slice of pizza out of a dumpster, was it? But still, the candy bar was lying in the wet grass just beyond the muddy shoulder of the road.... Do candy bars have expiration dates? That could be the all-consuming factor. Yes, they do. And yes it was....  Don't expiration dates principally apply to eggs, meat, and dairy though? And aren't candy bars sealed to keep freshness in? I rationalized the question to the point I could almost taste the caramel. However, I wondered, what if some sociopath injected the Snickers bar with some poisonous substance, a narcotic or worse yet, a laxative? A flimsy wrapper is hardly tamper-proof.

At this posting, the Snickers bar is cooling its heels in the freezer where it will remain until (it's my hope) I'll have forgotten all about it. And then, what a sweet discovery!

(If in the past three days you lost a Snickers bar in the Valley and would like to claim your property, stop by anytime. To prove ownership, though, you'll have to tell me the bar's expiration date. But for now, it's finders, keepers.) Print this post


  1. Ha ha. I'd eat it. But your sweet discovery at some point in the future may backfire if there's anyone else snooping in the freezer...cuz finders, keepers, right?

    1. Ms. Bridget, as the one who "lays by" much of the produce, I'm the principal custodian of the freezer. Besides, considerable space is taken up by containers of frozen butterflies. I have taken your warning to heart, however, and plastered a "Mr. Yuck" sticker to the bar. But then that would remind me of the backstory, wouldn't it? Or, we could share it. You eat your half first. Good, as always, to hear from Ms. Bridget.

  2. Do you know of any golf driving ranges nearby? I've come across 2 golf balls so far in my front yard and am not sure where they came from. I've also found several dollar bills in my bushes, maybe blown over from money that's fallen out of berry pickers pockets?

  3. Funny you should mention the golf balls. The cornfield south of the Victorian house where the Upper and Lower Loop roads connect used to be the Sky Valley driving range. Whenever Frohnings turn the field in the spring, one can see these little white puffballs out in the field: golf balls left over/lost from countless practice sessions. Yesterday on my bike ride I
    counted four. I posted about the spring "mushroom crop" on my blog a couple years ago. Shortly after the field was plowed for the first time, I saw a "gleaner" walking the furrows, packing a five gallon bucket. However, one would have to be a super golfer to sail a ball to your place.

    As far as the dollar bills in the shrubbery: perhaps Mark put them there to encourage you to keep up with landscape maintenance. If you don't know what to do with them, I'm sure I could put the $$ to good use. Thanks for reading.TMJ