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Monday, March 25, 2013

Passaic River Diary: April 4, 1981

April 4, 1981

The buds start again – round bulbs of green illuminating the banks and the long branches with their soft array.
The birds chatter over the gentle roar of the falls near the foot of Service Diner, wind causing last year’s brown least to clatter along the ground like scurrying crabs.
The new season grows around us bit by bit, filling in the blank spaces, cyhasing away winter’s dismal brown – though I can still feel the chill of the water and the resistance of winter to vacate.
But this is not yet May when these banks will fill in with an almost impenetrable green that even the rumble of traffic from River Road and the Outwater Lane Bridge cannot dent, green that will hide the soot-stained brick walls of the old paper mills, green that casts deep shadows over the abandoned car lots and even moderates the stench of the still-operating gas station that pumps life into cars and fumes into the atmosphere.
I ache for the warm innocence of the water, the safe heat of sunlight that brings the carp back to the surface where I might see their webbed backs.
Spring has teased me a few times this winter, not with splotches of green, but with fair days too early to make sense, comfortable days that confused the wildlife into believing the seasons might be changing when they were not: sea gulls crying forlornly over the river top after fish they can’t find, ducks and geese seeking mates who have not yet arrived from the south – only for winter to plunge us back into cold, casting a net of thin ice over the shallow eddies nearer the shores.
We did not get the deep freeze we have seen in the past, none of the blocks of ice piling one on top of another to resemble a collection of children’s toys.
Somewhere – perhaps down by the new Wall Street Bridge – church bells chime, as if to celebrate the coming of the new season. But I know it probably the conclusion of some funeral, and serves more to mourn the passing of an old friend. I mourn, too, even if for an old friend as mean-spirited as winter.
Yet for all that, I know how quickly time passes along these shores and how spring will bleed into summer and summer into fall, and too soon winter will rise with its deathly look, and that the green that I love now, will die a spectacular death in red and gold, and then turn brown again.

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