Ocean Bay Park

As I write this issue’s column, it has been over 100 days since Russia invaded Ukraine.  I know you are probably asking “what does that have to do with Ocean Bay Park?” besides the cost of food and gas? The answer is simple. Our summer neighbors on Ontario Street have just arrived from Poland, where they have experienced firsthand the brutality and insanity of Putin’s war. Danny, Annetta and Patryck Kozyra arrived from Krakow at the end of May. From the outset of the war they have been sending regular updates to me, Niza Shor-Egan, and the Ocean Bay Park Fire Department where Patryck is a new member.

Patryck, Annetta and Danny Kozyra with Flynn the Cat.

In one email, Danny wrote, “The situation in the border towns of Poland is dramatic. You can hear shots, you can see explosions, wounded people running away, and the sky is covered with military planes and helicopters. Our parents are terrified; they remember the time of war and did not think they would see another one. They worry that Poland is next.” The Kozyras were among the scores of Polish citizens who opened their homes and gladly took in their Ukrainian neighbors. The saying that all heroes do not wear capes is so true. We are all proud of them and so happy they have arrived here safely and for once I do not resent the fact that Flynn, the cat we “share,” was waiting to greet them upon their return. Little does Flynn know but there is a pet rabbit back in Poland!

How does one segue from war to something as banal as what I call my daily treasure hunt?  It all started with what we used to call the two annual shopping days, namely the spring and the fall clean up dates. That’s when you could go out and bring home all the stuff your friends and neighbors threw out, even though you probably already had enough “junk.” Over the past few years this has now expanded to a whole movement known as the Buy Nothing Group, where people put out their goodies, post it on social media and then you hope you get there first. Today on my daily bicycle ride to work in Ocean Beach, I scored a paper towel holder and a Milton Bradley Hangman game. Okay, stop laughing.

The siren call of the hunt is so strong that when Lisa Jaffe called me one day to say that she and Nonda Volpe were going “garbage picking,” I jumped at the chance since it’s always fun to see what’s out there.  However, when I met up with them, I found Lisa and Nonda with a blue mesh 4OCEAN bag and a claw gripper. Garbage picking actually was that – an expedition to pick up litter – something Nonda spent a lot of time doing these past months.  As a community I suggest we all try to follow her example and start by picking up on our own street and making sure we bring back from the beach any trash we generate.  Here’s a sobering bit of trivia: two billion people within 30 miles of the coast create 100 million metric tons of coastal plastic waste!  Let’s all go out and give it a try.  It’s actually a fun way to get some exercise and spend quality time with a friend.  And who knows, you just might find your own treasure.

Our next issue will come out after June 19, which is both Father’s Day and Juneteenth. This year, it’s a day to remember and honor our fathers as well as a day to remember how important freedom is to all.