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Sunday, May 5, 2013

First blush of winter

Nov. 15, 1980

It is a cold and sluggish world here today, unrushed by the insane urgency of cars on River Driver and the Outwater Lane Bridge into Clifton.
The river water laps lazily on the shore, stirring up bits of moist leaves. The catfish gravel in the mud for their last meals before seeking deep water, although this year that water is sparse, and the ever-hungry gulls swoop down often and rarely rise empty-beaked.
Even those who survive this hunt may not survive the deep freeze with the water so low so as to leave fewer rise to rise up with the coming of spring.
Yet, despite the cold the freeze here has barely started, easing in at the edges in an early season frost we all know won’t last, painting wrinkles on the face of the old river other seasons hide.
A car horn blares from the middle of the bridge, its echo resounding up and down stream like an alarm, soon duplicated by the insane need for drivers to catch the River Drive light before it turns.
The bridge walls drip rust, brown tears from exposed bolts that keeps civilization hinged, the low river exposing its underbelly other years could not, the brown rot at the bottom of those stanchions cracking from years of temperature changes, algae and pollution, giving evidence as to why the state needs to replace the bridge and widen it, to let more horns honk to get through the same light.
This is the most dreary time for me and the river, the brown time, the moment when the flush of fall fades before the chill of winter comes with too few reminders of the glory days behind, a handful of red berries, a smattering of yellow leaves, highlight perhaps by gray clouds over head.
It is at times like these that I feel brown inside and out, and chilled deeper even when the deep water comes, needing some deep water to settle in until the worst of winter passes.

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