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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Agitated geese

May 30 1980

The geese gather in wide water today, near the island where the river divides, sluggish brown factory waste to one side, the assorted littered tossed off the bridge on the other.
Sheets of yellow newsprint cling to some of the reeds like ship sails, fluttering with each gust of wind. Old soda cans weave and bob on the surface, catching bits of sunlight. An old baby carriage leans off two rocks, its wheels and fabric long rotted, now gathering streams of weed that brush passed in the current.
The geese, who usually have something to complain about, seem unusually agitated today, roused from their usual feed upstream by cats or rats or human beings, forced to seek their fair in fish rather than bits of bread the old lady spreads across her lawn.
 I don’t always see her outside when I get to that point of my job. But I see her home and yard, a quiet yet deteriorating place, living in the shadows of the Route 46 Bridge, an eyesore of unpainted walls and the wrecks of old cars the city would condemn but for some guardian angel keeping her safe.
Perhaps the pigeons have moved to the old lady’s place, doing as they did in Nash Park, devouring everything in sight so as to leave little for the geese to feed on.
The air today is filled with a scene of rotting, and the more odious perfume smell the chemical companies use to disguise the poisons oozing out of pipes along the riverside. Yet for all of that, the air still smells fresher here than along River Drive where waiting cars spill their fumes.
Unseen things stir in the reeds, and I can follow their movements as each foxtail bends. Are these muskrats or snakes or just some fluke of wind, I cannot tell.
Some fool in a pickup truck pauses on the bridge to toss out some half empty cans of beer, each plopping into the water among the geese, giving them one more grievance and a reason to take flight. Along with them is a mating pair of ducks, rising in a flutter of wings, rising high into the bright sky to become silhouettes before vanishing over the bridge beyond the reach of beer cans or me, as I get ready to climb back up to the street and the next leg of my jog.

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