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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mulberry: Progress report: 1987

The bulldozers plowed down the mulberry trees where I used to stop to watch the river during my early morning run, burping, bumbling, bubbling machines widening the lane for the new bridge. Although Post's Ford remains untouched, the grey dock has vanished, with a pile of splintered wood slid into the back of a dump truck.
The pile drivers pound down the huge steel frame that will foot the new bridge and keep it from rocking the way the old one did, accomodating two lanes of traffic each way where as the old one barely had one, though what traffic does after it gets over the damned thing, is anyone's guess, one lane leading up to the bridge on one side, one lane leading away on the other.
After hours, when the union workers punch out for the night, I take a walk to the blighted bank, staring down to where the water runs, no tangle of trees or leaves or stone, but a flatten hump over which grass seed will get strewn and signs posted to keep people like me from sitting there, or fishermen from casting their lines.
I used to grab handfuls of the mulberries as I jogged by, my small reward for making it so far along the route with coffee at Service Diner my next stop, then the water fountain at Nash Park after that, with breakfast at home on my final stop.
How could anyone be so careless as to plow down something so precious to so many, poor people crossing the old bridge from the ruined river-side houses on the Passaic side, spending all day collecting the fruit, their fingers as purple as if they had beaten the concrete sides of the new bridge for that long with their fists, their clothing covered with the smell of berry.
Even now, with the sun sinking, and the branches gone, I catch a whiff of that fading fragrance, gone to progress.

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