Staying Ahead of the Race

Whew, since March I think few of us realized the stress, worry, and plans that would be made to adapt to everything from school, to personal life, to our health, to how recreation and extracurricular life would completely be flipped around.

One day after Thanksgiving, I can truly be proud of so many things – Here’s my list:

The Woodbridge High Cross Country Team – from the coaches, athletes turned managers, athletes and parents – we have never seen a more disciplined and serious team than this year, and the results show it – take a look at grades:

The boys team average was 80%

The Ladies team average was 98%

The team’s average overall was 89%

HUGE kudos to the teachers, as well as parents, AND of course the athletes for seeing the bridge between academics AND sports travels both ways, and in such an unpredictable time, I could not be more proud despite, I am sure, most of the athletes dread my daily emails/calls asking about their work, LOL.

But then let’s take a look at the times of these athletes!

The first time is the time they started and they time after the versus is now or the time they are aiming to beat this year as their PR (Personal record) at Conference tomorrow or states next week!

Ladies

Anjolie – 26:38 versus 29:39 before being hurt for the season

Bethany 25:28 versus 24:20

Kenia 26:34 versus 25:50

Alyssa 31:51 versus 30:34

Kayla 38:40 versus 28:40

Parker 26:39 versus 26:24

Payton 28:39 versus 25:53

~

Boys

Ahmere 18:54 versus 19:59

Samuel 22:10 versus 20:34

Duane 28:17 versus 22:03

Wesley 22:13 versus 22:35

David 46:59 versus 27:45

Luke 22:42 versus 21:55

Caleb 22:21 versus 19:50

Ian 19:35 versus 18:27

High Honor Roll Luke, Payton, Anjolie, Samuel, Parker, Kenia, Alyssa, Kayla, Bethany

and Honor Roll! Ahmere, Duane, Wesley!

And I will bet tomorrow, at the 2020 Henlopen Conference at Killen’s Pond, our athletes will have alot to show and surprise themselves in what they can do – VERY proud and thankful for them responding back to the call to be as great as they can dream to be.

Add to this year the need to be thankful for a Memorial trees project

that started and became initiated (more to come!), computer technology supplied to needy students, and that is JUST TOUCHING THE SURFACE in a pandemic year – there will be more to come, and whether on a physical 5k course or racing against the challenges of the pandemic, if we stop and reflect, there is QUITE alot to be thankful and grateful for – pushing the negative of 2020 into positive digits. Stay tuned followed tomorrow’s Conference meet for even more reasons to see how the season and year can become a better one!

Watch this for inspiration- you can do ANYTHING


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Be the Spark. Bring Karma Back Into a Positive Light.

There I was, having received my SUV truck back after an lengthy cost and lengthy period of repair, so the dogs were out of luck with being able to be driven anywhere. They were excited, I was excited to be out on a 65 degree plus day in the third week of November. In line to the local Chick Fil A to grab another Peppermint Shake and three cups of whipped cream for the canines, as I approached the ordering kiosk, I noticed, as I opened my wallet, I had slipped by debit card out and left onto the desk beside my front door, and no other payment with me. oooof! I went up to the speaker to order, and had to explain I left my payment at home but would need to drive thru and would need to come back.

They understood and I passed up to the next employee holding the device to process payment. As I explained this to the cashier working outside, she would not hear of it, she wanted to take my order and I said, seriously, no, I live close and I can get and return. She would not hear of it, she asked me what I wanted and ordered and ordered the whipped cream cup for the dogs, not even hesitating once.

While embarrassed I forgot my payment at home and not checking before leaving home, I also realized how often someone could do the same thing I did blatantly and take advantage of this situation. The employee never hesitated. It stayed with me all the way home. I decided I would make sure, next time through, I would pay for the person behind me.

We spend an awful lot of time looking at Karma in the negative light, seeing what negative Karma will come back to haunt someone when something they do negative will come back to haunt them. I hope in the future, many more will look at the positive light of Karma, and what it can do for each of us, as well as those that surround us.

Below is what i wrote To Chick Fil A– and yes, Chik Fil A has contentious political stances that cause conflict, but I certainly can agree with others philopsophies they extend to customers. We should apply the same to how politics and how we treat people, and serve people, regarding politics, in the same way.

Thanks for sharing feedback with us
Well, thanks so much!Hi Harry,We’re so glad to hear about your recent experience. We know compliments can really make someone’s day, so we’re sharing your kind words with the leadership team at the restaurant you visited. They will make sure your compliments make it back to the team members.

Thank you again for sharing. It’s truly our pleasure to serve you.

Chick-fil-A Customer Care Team

Need more help? Simply reply to this email.Customer Report Info
Date: 11/22/2020
Name: Harry Brake
Email Address: harry.brake@gmail.com
Comments: Yesterday, November 21st, at this store- 22932 Sussex Hwy, Seaford, DE 19973, I was IN line with my three dogs, and went to order and went for my wallet and realized, I had left my Debit card on the shelf beside my front door! I had all forms of payment at home. I explained this at the window, and explained I would go back home and retrieve my debit card and then return. The employee taking payments, in a grey shirt, as I drove through, refused to let me move on until she made it clear they would take care of the payment for me, and would not take no for an answer, as well as providing cups of whipped cream for my canines in the car. This was generous beyond belief, and when anyone could say this was the case to get a free meal, I appreciate the generosity given to me. The next time I am in the drive through, I am going to pay it forward and pay for the person behind me. Thank you so much for instilling this generosity in your employees. This was around 2:00 PM so I hope you will pass this forward this message onto this employee that was on the lane outside, taking orders. Thank you so so much.
Restaurant Number: 04135
Inputs: restaurantExperience_compliment_serviceStaff_other
Report Number: 19828063
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Color Added to the Nanticoke River Watershed Conservancy to Our Community

Here’s our followup to our AMAZING October 17th Clean Up Day! Referencing our former post –

Thank you to everyone who helped with The Chapel Branch Nature Trail Community Clean Up Day with the Nanticoke River Watershed Conservancy. Over 20 projects in one day – and as you know stewardship of this and so many other properties is more than one day- if you want to be in the loop of other activities – please email me at harry.brake.gmail.com – and bulletin!


By request- the coloring contest is back and is extended for 2 more weeks-

the coloring pages are available for download here:

and the guidelines/rules for the coloring contest itself are HERE.

Need some inspiration? Check out Karen Hamilton’s Image of our one and only know by many runners and walkers as our Narnia Beech tree:

The Narnia Tree at Chapel Branch by Lindsey Schilling

In the meantime check out our videos from the day –

A HUGE thanks to Beth Kopicki for our videos

And photos

coverage, and to our sponsors- TidalHealth Nanticoke Hospital, Volunteer Delaware, Hungry Howie’s and Rita’s Ice – It was great to meet and greet new individuals from other states, as well as neighbors nearby unaware of the Chapel Branch Nature Trail.

Girl Scout Troop 1321 and Seaford FFA to name just a few – it was a great day thanks to all of you helping maintain some of the best resources in our own back yard!

Check out Coloring Contest guidelines and how you can be involved up to November 27, 2020, at Chapel Branch Click HERE or simply click on the images.

IF ANY issues downloading individual coloring pages, just request which pages you would like to harry.brake@gmail.com and we will send via email – or will get them to you- JUST ASK! please read the contest regulations at the above link.

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On Election Day…

…I was asked,They Called Us Enemy won the 2020 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work.  (For more information, see https://www.comic-con.org/awards/eisner-awards-current-info (Links to an external site.)). Why do you think the book won the award?  Do you agree that it deserved the award?  Why or why not?  What does or does not make it award worthy?”

Realistic Graphic Novel Non-fiction.  Finding new ways and strategies of approaching historical moments that framed a narrative, both good and bad.  I sat in on judging a Vocal essay contest today, and the main questions was this theme- “Is This the Country the Founders Envisioned?” 

If you think about this, a telling look into correct, moral, immoral, questionable, controversial, and even more defining adjectives that make up the United States historical past, when you confront, address, and contemplate such moments, past and present (even the future) – critical thinking emerges.  Even among divisive viewpoints, which is so talked about today on election today – the stronger individuals are those that disagree, yet do not have to mar another’s character, identity to be able to agree to disagree.  When hateful words, when ignorant ranting matches ignorant actions, it is often difficult to separate the two- and the chances of meeting somewhere in middle ground is more like a pit of quick sand around everyone.

On election day more than any other day, the chance to reflect, act, and respect individual’s right to vote is supreme and wanting everyone to be able to participate and find way to become a registered voter should be on everyone’s to do list, looking out for one another along with celebrating the right to vote.  Few people, as history reveals, look out of others while one’s own fortunes, fears, and destiny is at stake.  The individual who indeed is able to put others in front of him/ her often comes last, true, yet – comes with a lifetime of payback.

All of the above, and even with a little celebrity added, is why George Takei’s graphic novel is so worth celebrating.  His story is an American story even though he is Japanese, because, it is not often that a person was born and raised in the United States that makes the only American.  This is often abused into a definition.  What makes America great is the fact that it is NOT an American of one single race, ethnicity, religion, and 100 other characteristics, but the diversity represents the variety of freedoms we enjoy today, often thanks to the sacrifice and downtrodden of others before us.  The ugly past that also is part of the American history, alongside the beautiful, is worth being studied for generations to come, and George Takei does an AMAZING job of putting thought – before judgement – on America’s past. 

Being a true, non fiction event and being able to create a discussion, a forum, and a point of critical thinking does not hurt what this publication deserves the awards it has received – as well as adding an additional dimension to what defines being an enemy, being an American, and simply being.

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There is Nothing More…

…that you need. It is all right here.

Every day that goes by I learn something more by young people that I am lucky enough that surround me.

Be it Cross Country ( A personal love of mine), life as a teacher, librarians, paraeducator, parent, booster, a HUNDRED other roles, there are THOUSANDS of reasons to be too busy to treasure the countless moments that are MAGIC moments that are so easily missed with too many bad karma in politics, pandemic worries, and yes, a thousand more controversial reasons to miss priceless moments.

Advice – push all aside and make the things that weigh us down, there are a hundred sleepers – individuals who do indeed get weighed down by the thousands of reason to get weighed done- BUT, if you are risky and daring enough, you will shed those aspects that try to weigh you down, and you will feel, yes, but the more that tries to weigh you down, the more you can rise above it.

Excuses are many, true independent hearts are few.

I have been extremely lucky to be surrounded by young, aspiring, and talented young future leaders – they are the future. Each of us can choose to talk, argue, and spend our time and watch the moments you could be spending with these individuals on the sidelines being just a spectator, or being an active part to push their possibilities forward. I choose the latter, and thank goodness so many around us choose the latter as well.

I have learned the hard way, there is no room for those that choose the back seat, positive approaches to improving what is around us and available, those that decide to take advantage of those opportunities, and be a part of them? That is what sets us apart for stagnation. Howe luck are we to witness such things each day? Beyond measure.

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Eat a Peach :)

Amid the 25 day push up challenge thanks to my former principal Mr. Clarence Davis, you would have noticed two posts ago I commented on the realizations that occur prepping for, during, and after the pushups themselves.

As the borders of coincidence are often shattered as I notice around me, this amazing podcast about this topic is AMAZING.

The novel Eat a Peach, by David Chang, sounds amazing and from the podcast, the topics of the loss of Anthony Bourdain, the amazing outlook looked at – check out the listen at 6:07 in this podcast –

AND reinforcing the fact that looking at mental illness, depression, and anxiety is

“someone as commonplace as someone using an inhaler to help breath better.”

This is an amazing look at how a chef, the restaurant business, and the food world itself is subject to the topic of mental illness, anxiety, and depression with a further look.

While I was always wondering when I would try to get back in shape, I was not planning on this challenge to do so, but yet, I also have realized along with my physical stamina affected positively, the ability to help myself and others with issues that affect us mentally, on a positive level, is a whole new level of health that is often considered taboo and should not be.

I bet this will be a terrific book – Eat a Peach

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An Invitation to Fellow Faculty During a Pandemic

WILD RAIDER FOLK!

HAPPY LABOR DAY holiday weekend! 🙂  I KNOW it is a holiday so DO take the holiday and provide an easing into the things you need to so – this is vital to be a successful Raider- trust me, I know!


I made my latest blog post just for you – so hope you like it 🙂

I received something from Raider Heather Kerrick, who works at the Woodbridge Early Childhood Education Center, and Phillis Wheatley Middle School, provided the attached resources that will be added to the current online resource page.

FYI- some of the attached resources are elementary skills, BUT – I have noticed – if you provide something elementary to students that can tackle, then adding the advanced concept seems to be received easier and with less frustration 🙂

Also, please remember -the WHS Library Media Center is a resource for YOU and the students.  Yes I try to balance novels, nonfiction, maps, artwork, technology, literature, rent the video camera and tripod, use the DVD’s, VHS player (believe it or not), DVD players, audio books, those huge rip away paper display boards and MORE for YOU as faculty AND for students.  If you have suggestions, PLEASE ask.  This is a resource to allow you to settle your mind, be able to plan and teach better, and receive support, it is NOT simply just for students – you are welcome ANYTIME – to just chat, to just clear your mind, to learn how to work through something, and how to plan something out, or needing a plan to do something, and well, anything you need  (Even posters and such 🙂  )

Please check out the links that exists next to my profile pic 🙂https://www.whsraiders.net/apps/staff/

or the library page itself: https://www.whsraiders.net/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=438829&type=d

and the WHS Library Media Center toolbox page itself:https://sites.google.com/view/wilc-extensions/home

It is exciting to see that faculty from other schools can work together to help each other – not just within our building.  I always feel that there is so much isolation from Kent and New Castle County to Sussex County, and there should not be. 

If we were collaborating / sharing all the time, no matter the type of school – the location of the school, and /or the level  we teach – and breaking down the walls of being afraid to ask – being geographically isolating due to stereotypes of being a “better district” than another, etc – things would be so much easier for all of us – but the cool thing is we have each other – and we have YOU!  so we are better already 🙂

Excited to have you as part of the team and hope by sharing and collaborating with those in and out of our own classes, we all grow and see how a disparaging pandemic can be an opportunity to help everyone grow!  🙂 

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What do YOU do with that?

Where does the past, when you do not expect it, lead you to a better tomorrow?

Few times I like to completely bare exactly how I feel – but there are moments when it was just the right thing to do.

In this very difficult time we find ourselves in that can bring so many to places of no return – often the past is the most important thing we have to remind ourselves, a better tomorrow depend on the pasts we all have had.

Too many times in my life I have seen, heard, felt, and experienced individuals that think only of one thing, themselves. I have also born witness to the fact that those people have so many ups and downs in their lives, they, to me seem pitiful, sad, alone, and stealing moments from others that deserve so much more.

As I find myself in the middle of a 25 pushup a day challenge for 25 days, it is QUITE easy to trivialize this into the social media square of a social media stint that is 1 of 30 000 we see in the social media frenzy we see today.

Yet, as I was working through my second day of 25 pushups and realizing how out of shape I was …

…I was taken back to a rainy, night, late, being called from a dear and troubled friend who needed someone to talk to, and as of late he kept repeating the mantra that he felt no reason for life as he was experiencing it, and my continued mantra reassuring him his life DID matter, despite the hurdle after hurdle experience he was facing – several days later I received a call in the wee hours of the AM from his parents informing me he had just committed suicide and that splitting, empty moment, still reappears to me on the rainiest of rainy nights. I still go back over and over wishing I had done many things differently and would have traded the self destructive relationship I was in at the time for moments that I felt would have mattered to change the paths that had unraveled at that moment in time.

Flashbacks of how devastated I was to realize my Father had suddenly disappeared from my life and all the things I had taken for granted and never had said, because we just became used to how we were around each other, never vocally putting into words certain sentiments – and the feeling that we would always have the time to say and do what we wanted. I distinctly remember at that point knowing I was already changed and inside felt as if I w as always simply drifting, not really ever knowing how to take what had happened and get past that second major loss. I also distinctly remember vowing to live a life that would easily symbolize two other’s lives, those representing my friend David, and for my Dad.

I distinctly remember a day in Mexico City, watching the Presidential election, hearing the words that put down, disgraced, and defamed individuals that had took me in as family, fed me when I often had little to nothing on the table as I learned my way, individuals that did not match the very description that was being painted by a future leader of a country a continent away. I was ashamed, I felt betrayed, I felt as if my life had it not been in the proper location, would have been at risk as being lumped into having those same sentiments as being a representative of a country that was putting down those in a country that had taken me in, embraced me, saved me, and looked out for me. I never have quite forgotten how those words, actions, and persona made me feel and know to this day I would have never realized that feeling had I not actually been in Mexico at the time.

12th grade- I distinctly remember being told by my Guidance counselor that it was a good thing that I was as in the situation that programs existed that would accept kids like me that were too poor to go onto college. I vaguely remember the way it made me feel, making me feel as if I had very little to offer for any type of bright and potential future. I had always not really taken school seriously and considered it nothing more than a large social experience, because I craved and loved being around people so much, and never had been reinforced from parents that school was the most important thing and everything else came after. It had always been about the people in our lives and then everything else came after. I would not realize until much later how that feeling and what would be a challenge to prove that guidance counselor wrong, and that would serve me well, and help me find my way amid a chaotic and unplanned path, and to this day it has served as my conscious compass.

The time my high school friend and I would often sit around the table in the evening, and believe it or not, with my Mom, and we would go round and round rehashing how he should not be so hard on himself because despite being “good enough” for someone who turned his affections aside, he had so much to offer anyone – he just could never accept it because the one person he longed to have kindness returned to, refused to acknowledge what we saw in him. He was, and still is, one of the funniest and smartest individuals I have ever met, he deserves the self esteem of a mountain.

I remember the last time I saw my brother and sisters before I lost them to cancer and also recall how amazingly timely it was that I had decided to return to the United States from Mexico, and not knowing this would unfold in front of me. If I would not have been able to see either of them when I did, I now feel I would not have been able to come to terms with the period I had found myself gone for the length of time I had been gone. The same year I had returned from Mexico, the very individual who had hired me in Mexico, and represented everything I was seen and loved about taking time to give everyone a moment, the long-standing individual who had come to represent everything I knew and felt about The American School Foundation, had passed away shortly after taking his absence from a position he had held for what had seemed the life of the school itself.

I could go on and one and not just tell my stories, but relate the life altering stories of students I met and knew relied on meals we found for them and their families, the heartaches of abuse, neglect, bullying, and so many more things that fill the world we find ourselves in now that truly tie themselves to the issues of depression, anxiety and mental illness. There is not a day that goes by that I do not see Dane’s (my rescued pitbull/boxer mix) eyes look into mine, and remember the night he came to me bloody, in a box, saved from a group of people kicking him trying to break his ribs, running him over for a car – a man who ran into the middle of this bunch and rescued him risking his own life, and driving three hours to my apartment in Mexico, and me 98% sure this poor shaking, bloody dog would not make it until the next day and now, years later, seeing him thrive and eat up any and all attention he could receive from everyone he met.

I am only on day 5 of the pushup challenge and see this realization of what can be, and yet what some people are satisfied with and stand by and do nothing but hurt, inflict negativity, continue to thrive on talking down others, holding grudges, bringing others down, refusing to meet each other in the middle, refusing to respect each other’s right to agree to disagree, and simply stain a life that could be so positive, and make it so negative.

With every piece of trash I pick up, every friend I take time out of my life to bring up, provide a good day for, and simply try to think of another, each of the above that have become a part of my past, that could have led to a continued state of depression, anxiety, and a prolonged state of mental illness, thank goodness did not thanks to the family, friends, students, colleagues, and so many more that believed I could get through some pretty dire moments I never saw myself getting through. Ever.

I simply wish more people would use social media, use their day, use their time off, use their holidays, use their pasts to pass along., pay forward kindnesses that will stay with those around them and bring others up and push them into a better tomorrow, rather than taking the energy, time, and initiative to bring others down that they might not see eye to eye with, or agree with, or consider below their station in life.

What do YOU do with these life changing moments and the chance to improve someone else’s life, instead of always looking how to make a better day, life, year, moment for yourself? One of the largest discoveries I have made in the life is to live as if I have no more days left, and as I have been trying to live the life of at least two others, if not more, I have found my life has been positive and better thanks to the time I have taken for others along the way.

In a time when it is too easy to be divisive, isolating, vengeful, and selfish, the time to consider those effects on others, other than yourself, and realize the very real aspects of mental illness, anxiety, and depression will lead each of us along very different paths. What will YOU do with that realization? Tear down the world and those around you or choose to bring others up and change the world around us for the better? As for me- I have some pushups to do – and am grateful for the chance to recall how I have been able to make it this far in my life thanks to the sacrifices so many have been willing to give for me.

Day #5 of the 25 pushup challenge, here I come…and the person I challenge tonight is…well you will just have to check it out on my – yep you got it, Facebook page 🙂 Here’s to bettering the world around us for thinking of others along the way, in a time we need it most.

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Thank you!

Receiving emails and calls from students in personal crisis – full of anxiety, concerns and worries at all hours, well…

I know I get criticism sometimes for having too many candles burning at the same time, but this is the thing. Many forget that being an educator means there are times you need to have an open line at all times because some students need that open line- and of course, sometimes people shut those doors at 2:45, but life doesn’t – I always considered that the difference between a teacher and an educator. Life doesn’t allow a cleanly clipped end time for those worries and concerns to fall into a neat, timed period.


Never feel you cannot continue to reach out to me anytime – yes I get stressed, yes I always add a list of things to do larger than is realistic within a day – SOMETIMES – but through it all – the reason I am able to have the success in a profession that is challenging most days and not for the weak of heart – and often as transparent as the time willing to be spent in that same profession – is because of YOU. Hang in there, because know, even through the toughest of times, the phone line/email is open and you always have an ally. You have made some of my hardest days so easy with hilarity, laughter, and optimism.


You keep me going forward on days sometimes I do not feel I can do anything – and along the way, I have had some amazing supporters of my philosophy despite its craziness – it all comes back and helps you move forward on some of those rough days – thank you!

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Garbage In, Garbage Out, a Community Reflection.

Walking along Woodland Road, the stretch from in front of Invista, past Chapel Branch Nature Trail, until the road ends in the Woodland Ferry area, you might not see the space off to the side of the road.  I am more an avid watcher of these areas from trying to keep the litter and garbage off this stretch of road as well as the Chapel Branch Nature And Vince Morris Trail.

Today, unfortunately, over four bags of garbage were strewn all over plants in the front of the parking  lot, beer bottles, cups, and garbage thrown all along the sides of the streams, and people took time to carve the usual obscene messages about their body parts that they probably wish they had.

In my mind I wonder, is this the reflection they want others to think of Delaware when they visit such nature trails?  Is this what they want younger children to see as they are out and about nature?  What further cemented this thought in my mind was the condoms that are strewn all over the nature and I thought, “Trust me, if you are this less intelligent to not know how to clean up after yourself, let alone know how to properly dispose of garbage, you think you have the smarts for using a condom?  Good luck with that buddy…”

What is a further kicker is you have individuals such as Mr Beiser, 91 years old picking up garbage from those who are trashier than the garbage left behind, individuals who take ATVS’s and gouge out native plants and trails, and take posts and benches restored by local youth organizations and raise anything of value that is valuable, now during Covid, to ruin.

I understand there are  some pretty disgusting people in this world, butit deflates me even more that we have some of the trashiest, ugliest, foulest people in our community that leave this reflection of what represents our community, whether we like it or not.  Further, every three days I fill up at least 3 garbage bags that are whiskey bottles, beer cans, soda cans, family packs of McDonald’s food wrappings, Dunkin Donuts bags, Arby’s sauce packets, and lots and lots of Wawa bags.  Mainly these establishments.  I  have no desire AT ALL to frequent these establishments after seeing how much of their garbage is thrown out of the car,  garbage people who consume and think it is okay to open the window, throw as far as you can into anything green and growing outside of your vehicle. I understand that the establishments have no control of the garbage people who litter and what they do with their trash, however, it WOULD be nice, as community members to use their presence to air advertisements and requests to dispose of their garbage in the proper place, and not ruin the natural environments around us – to reflect those who treasure these areas.

Yes, every other day, three to four garbage bags, those that care will continue to clean up after people who are as sick as the Covid that surrounds us, those that do not realize their garbage becomes our garbage just because they see this as the best way. It seems logical we have so many endangered species, animals, wildlife, forest, and environment when this type of attitude is the most dominant when you are present in nature trails, but it is disheartening to see how this reflects us as a state when it is being said every day, despite attempts to clean our own backyards up.  I am one that believes we are lucky to have this state of Delaware, the natural spaces we are lucky enough to have amid such a pandemic as we are in, and do indeed hope that those that continue to destroy the last remaining resources we have and can enjoy, and are restored by our youth, will have enough intellect from now until they age, that they can do better, for their state, for future generations, for their community.   One can only hope. 

 

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