November 30, 1980
I don’t often job along this part of the river.
To get to Lincoln Park, the river twists so many times from where I usually run in Garfield, it almost seems like a different river, more gentile on the surface, but much more dangerous underneath.
This part of the river lives above all the principle falls, Little Falls, The Great Falls, and the Dundee Falls behind the Service Diner, and is hidden behind trees so dense people forget the river exists except to cross it on the various bridges or when the rains come and it rises above its banks to put them out of their homes.
This part of the river has great mood swings, swelling and then shrinking again, often for reasons few of us can comprehend in an endless string of contradictions.
Today, it is low and muddy, wearing an almost reddish-brown face that defies anybody to call it a body of water.
I barely see any of it as I jog along Two Bridges Road from the first bridge near Willowbrook Mall to the highway bridge in Pinebrook under which old black men fish, a scene so surreal with its droopy willows and summer batches of mosquitoes I might have jogged back through time to a post Civil War Savannah, Georgia.
Like in Rutherford, where I also sometimes job, this place has a park-like quality where trees line the road, but in a less rigid arrangement than Rutherford where concrete defines the boundaries of the river and civilization thrives high above the high water marks as to take a 100 year storm to cause serious flooding.
Here river and residents live side by side almost on an equal plain, struggling with each rain to define their right to exist.
The trees differ, too. Rutherford is so prim and proper, spaces filled with trimmed hedges and lawns, while here, everything feels wild, like unkempt hair, spread out like an nature preserve the more conservative Rutherford would not tolerate.
Boulders left by the glaziers rise out of the water here like balding heads, weeds clustered around them and out of the cracks, and upon which seagulls roost.
These make this part of the river special to me since such boulders do not exist downstream along the Clifton or Garfield sections, and I often simply gawk at them like a tourist, and imagine the fun Dave and I would have had here during a river adventures as kids.
The air is cleaner here, too, lacking the all night spewing of factories or even the deceitful perfumed scent of the chemical factories which tries to hide the stench of the poisons they dump into the water when they think no one sees.
This place has plenty of traffic along the narrow two lane road that many use as a short cut around the often clogged Route 46 or Route 80. But walls of trees protect the river on the highway side while trees on this side seem to suck up the bad air with their canopy, and muffles the sounds so that this road is far quieter than River Drive in Garfield.
I jog in a dream here, and in some ways, it is distracting. In some ways, this isn’t the river I know and love, but some spruced up imposter who claims to be a distant relation and to me is not.