Asilomar State Beach, Monterey, California

Early last Sunday morning down at the wharf, we saw an older woman with a bag and a poker picking up trash. She wasn’t a city employee or a homeless person. She looked more like a concerned neighbor or a volunteer, dressed like everyone else out for a morning walk.

“Thank you,” popped out of my mouth with a little too much appreciation behind it. She looked up at us with her bright eyes and an easy smile. “You’re welcome,” she said, and something softened inside of me.

I’ve seen her before, and others like her out on Asilomar State Beach stabbing bits of paper along the road and bike path. Even with all the tourists over the holidays, the place is beautiful, and it’s due to the concern the community has for the natural environment. I can’t get these people out of my head, because there’s more to it than clean beaches and walking paths. It’s the simple act of doing what they can do to make a difference.