in the creek bed to present a hazard yesterday. The rain of the night before was welcome but not enough to make the creek flow. All we had were small muddy pools here and there along the creek along with a lot of debris that had washed through from gutters and drains.
There were five middle size boys doing a "clean up and get dirty" operation in the portion of the creek that flows through the memorial park next to the library. There was, unusually, no adult in sight.
I stopped to watch for a moment as I rode over the little footbridge. One of them looked up so I called out, "Looks like fun!"
There was a chorus of agreement. They had the rubbish piled in heaps and stones heaped against some tree roots on the bank.
"What are you going to do with the rubbish?"
They looked at one another. They had not thought quite that far ahead.
"If you want to finish cleaning up that bit I'll pick up some bin liners for you."
They agreed that might be a good idea. It was the work of five minutes to pick up a roll of cheap bin liners from the local bargain shop.
I went back...to find them all standing there being harangued by someone for "mucking around" and "causing damage" and being "little vandals". The boys were clearly too stunned by this onslaught to move. I moved in with the roll of bin liners in hand. The adult turned to me and started to tell me what dreadful little boys they were. I tossed the entire roll of bin liners to the nearest boy and said,
"If you still want to be good citizens go ahead. Leave the bags you don't use at the library. I'll ask them if you can leave the full bags next to their bins - and personally guys I think you are doing a great job and need to be congratulated."
They eyed off the other adult uneasily, their pleasure in their self-imposed task clearly diminished.
I went into the library and told one of the staff I know well what they were up to.
On my way home a couple of hours later I was relieved to find the five boys sitting outside the library in front of a row of well stuffed bin liners. They were drinking from mugs and eating biscuits from the biscuit jar belonging to the library staff. They grinned at me and gave me a wave.
I must remember to make the library staff some more biscuits.