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Bud Blight


 Everywhere cans and bottles—sometimes entire cartons of empty bottles–glittered in the sun. The highway was afflicted by Bud blight.

The monsoons have been generous in the area of the Galisteo Basin south of Santa Fe, and the range land is turning a blessed green. All along the highway grasses and wild flowers growing tall obscure the roadside litter. However, on a one-mile stretch near Estancia, New Mexico, it doesn’t matter that the land is still parched. That’s where my sister Kate walks with her Chocolate Lab.

She lives “out” a bit and has been patrolling the highway, as she puts it, for eight years, picking up trash as she goes—liquor bottles, plastic bags, food containers, dirty diapers, junk that has blown out of truck beds, water bottles, beer cans, and beer bottles. Bins in her barn fill up, and then she takes what she can to the recycling center in Albuquerque.

Of course, Kate and her Chocolate Lab have become known by the country people driving up and down the highway. “You’re the lady who picks up the trash,” has become a friendly greeting. And, “Want to come down my way?”

After a while, Kate decided to audit the material and found one constant and abundant source of litter—Budweiser Beer, and specifically, Bud Light. Everywhere cans and bottles—sometimes entire cartons of empty bottles–glittered in the sun. The highway was afflicted by Bud blight.

As she walked, Kate began to daydream about a way for Budweiser to reform its problem consumers without offending them. In her mind’s eye, she saw a television ad. Budweiser has adopted a highway somewhere, and the big Clydesdales are pulling a wagon that two Dalmatians are filling with highway litter. At one point, one of the horses looks back and sees a pile of the blue beer cans in the wagon. It turns to the other horse and says, “This is embarrassing.”

Kate was out of town on business for a week recently and was expecting a big haul on her return. However, she was struck by the reduction in beer cans and bottles. Had the sight of her effort finally made an impression? Are the guys keeping the trash on the seat beside them to dispose of properly, or do they just wait until they reach a guilt-free stretch of road?

On the other hand, maybe the video in her mind became so vivid that the message was received. She may have to work on another one, though. The count on plastic water bottles has risen.


2 Responses to “Bud Blight”

  1. Barbara McCarthy

    Yay Kate! Tom and I always pick up trash on our way up and down our mountain.
    Our Tesuque trash dump accepts any and all trash and recycling from along the roads even without a trash pass.
    Have a lovely day – I am STILL making jars and jars and jars of jam! Do you like plum? Ask me for some next time we see each other – I carry jars in the car.

    • celeryellen

      Dear Barbara,

      I would love anything you make. Sorry I missed you last Wednesday, but we’ll get it right yet.