Living in Louisiana keeps me humble. Brag about my native state and some blowhard’s bound to bring up the litter thing.

Florida does a better job of marketing than we do, and their beaches are more inviting to people who MUST have pretty sand.

I’ll take a darker beach if it means fewer people, as long as you can see the beach. We need to do a better job of keeping our beaches (and roadways) litter free.

Maybe, we should pass a law requiring screened windows in cars and pickups to make it harder for people to litter.

I used to think north Louisiana was less littered than south Louisiana. I thought, maybe, north Louisiana’s schools did a better job of educating young Louisianians on why it’s not a good thing to litter.

It had to be the schools. Don’t parents teach their children by example not to throw wrappers, drink bottles and cigarette butts out the car window?

For years, my roadside standard was set by the rural roads outside Dubach, north of Ruston, where I ride my bicycle. I’d brag on the people of Union and Lincoln parish to my wife.

We cling to our stereotypes despite best evidence to the contrary.

Over the years, the litter beside the road got worse on my bicycle rides. It occurred to me that no matter where I went in Louisiana the amount of litter was constant near cities and towns.

More people were moving to the country north of Ruston. These new country dwellers weren’t farmers. They bought their fast food, soft drinks and beer in town, consumed as they drove home and threw the paper, cans and bottles out the window in that sorry Louisiana tradition.

If we had good highways to take vacationers to our beaches, we’d still litter. It’s a big problem in what should be a lovely state.

We have great fishing beaches near marshes teeming with fish, but our beaches aren’t white.

The sand on our beaches, even if it weren’t covered with litter, is dirt rich from the Mississippi River. Some coastal cities truck in pretty sand to make their beaches more attractive.

We like our brown beaches. It’s not practical to compete with states that have good highways that end in nice sand.

Driving to work the first cool morning after a tropical storm, I rolled down my truck’s windows to enjoy the suggestion of fall in south Louisiana.

This IS a lovely part of the world, and the people are friendly. Even the people who litter grin as they toss their burger wrappers.

What keeps me humble about where I live is this: As soon as I start bragging about the beauty of Louisiana’s forests, swamps, marshes, great food, hunting, fishing, lovely gardens and old homes, someone is sure to bring up the litter thing.

It’s hard to explain to people who didn’t grow up here. Why don’t we ticket people who litter? I have no answer.

We must LIKE the way litter looks. But you put that in a brochure and people get the wrong impression.