ONE unseasonably grey afternoon during this year’s unusually bright summer, the kilometre-long beach near our West Cork home was deserted but for a single figure in the distance, walking along the top level of the tideline.
He stooped and stood, stooped and stood, apparently collecting something; we wondered if it could be driftwood, seas shells or white quartz stones. As we drew near, we recognised him; a fisherman we knew collecting beach debris, especially scraps of fishing nets and ropes, but also plastic bottles, flotsam and jetsam junk. He showed us his gleanings; skeins of rope and tangled monofilament net, great balls of it lost from boats or jettisoned because they had become too tangled to unravel. Filling old fertiliser sacks, he loaded them on his worse-for-wear flatbed truck to be taken to the waste centre. He regular did a cleanup when he had time off.
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