Monday, November 14, 2005

Entry #4...The streets and paths were deserted, just like heaven...

For the past couple of weeks, I've been going for walks around my town and keeping a sloppy journal about my travels. I'm still trying to cobble together most of my illegible hodge podge of notes accompanying each entry. Today I sat down and wrote out the entry for this day's walk, so, since it's ready, here it is. The rest will come later, and I'm not sure in what order...it'll be like a Quentin Tarintino film, with a little less blood...hopefully. These should probably still be regarded as rough drafts, but still...Enjoy!

Journal Entry #4

It was a little chilly this morning. I had to get my long underwear on for this morning’s walk. I made my way past where we feed the ducks. They swam demurely towards the shore, not sure if I would feed them but getting all their ducks in a row in case I was packing some old biscuits.

I walked through the little park and walking trail toward the bridge, the one that crosses where the little lake turns into a river and then unhesitatingly becomes the waterfall. The falls sounded loud today, louder than usual. Usually a low murmur is all you can hear on the White Pathway, which was what I walked along on my way to the bridge. Today, there was a definite roar about the waterfall.

Since I’ve been going on my morning walks, I can’t stress how much I prefer walking on grass to concrete. I know I go on and on about it, but I really can’t stress it enough. And it occurred to me here how there really is a spiritual aspect to it...it’s literally our bond with the earth we live on. And we are so isolated from it, especially in cities and suburbs. Not only did our feet, knees, legs, hips and spines evolve to “fit” us to the wonderful, giving ground, but our psyches evolved around that natural setting as well.

The bridge was empty of cars, so I continued my stride unbroken. My attention was caught by a bright redcapped woodpecker as I got across the big bridge. He was a big one, and he swooped in front of me and landed on an old husk of a tree that still stood beside the river, about fifteen feet before the falls dropped off. As I walked past the tree, he climbed upwards in a spiral fashion, trying to stay hidden on the other side of the tree, like squirrels do.

I then made my way to the swinging bridge. Looking over the edge, I noticed several pumpkins had suffered a long fall to the shallow rapids below, about fifty feet down. At least that looks better than the usual fare down there: shopping carts, clothing, bicycles...oh my god, the countless bicycles that have taken the plunge.

Crossing the bridge, I made my way into the bunch of tall cedars that dominate the entrance of Glen Park. I stopped suddenly, noticing a squirrel and a crow sitting about a foot away apart, staring right at each other. The crow cawed right at the squirrel, who was busily chewing on a nut he held in both little hands. He seemed untroubled by the black bird looking down on him, maybe even oblivious to him.

I heard a cawing from above, and looking up I saw another crow, up at the top of a tall, naked elm tree. I slowly backed away from the scene, not wanting to interfere. Luckily, the park was as empty as the walking trails and streets, so I wasn’t setting off anyone’s freak-radar.

The crow on the ground turned his head towards the one in the tree, cawing at him, letting him know that he had dibs on whatever it was that the squirrel had. No, I disagree, replied the crow in the tree. Seriously, it’s mine, cawed the bird on the ground, taking a couple steps toward the tree. After a moment or two of hesitation, the treed bird cawed back, prompting a return caw and another step from the one on the ground. The squirrel continued busily chewing on his nut, not really too concerned with crows and their business.

Finally, another crow was attracted by all the racket these two crows were making over the measly morsel of the squirrel. While they talked it over, the squirrel surreptitiously tucked the nut under a leaf and bounded away, startling all the crows in the process, and they all flew away.

I walked through Glen Park on my way to the trails on the other side, and I noticed the noise of the construction machinery. Apparently, they’re planning, regrettably, to pave the trail down to the part of the park down by the river. I’ve heard they’re going to “develop” that area of the park, another example of this city mucking up their greatest assets. Whether it’s the ticky-tacky relationship with the university, the ugly back sides of Main Street buildings facing the river, the walking bridge debacle or any other seemingly uncountable fiascoes, this city sure does like to pitter away it’s resources and opportunities.

I realize that we want handicapped people to have access to public lands, but in the process of paving over and landscaping nature to attain that access, you wipe away the very nature that you want to give access to. I say leave wild land wild.

I reached the other side of the park and got onto the trail down to the other, less prominent, waterfall. It, like the big waterfall, has lost a great deal of it’s natural flair on the basis of the large, unnatural-looking concrete slab that was put up to buttress the cliff that the falls fall over, an effort to prevent erosion, I suppose. I hate that look it gives the falls, but if it’s necessary, it’s necessary, I suppose. Even looking as artificial and unspontaneous as it does, a water feature is still a water feature.

Where the trail leads, just downstream from the falls, is where the city street sewer ends. Over the course of years, all the drained rainwater has coursed across this little plain of sandstone. Much of the stone, thanks to the freezing and thawing cycle, has large cracks and splits in it, and there are several distinct jagged layers of stone showing. The rocks look as though they were ruins, the different stepped levels of stone with the sharp, seemingly purposeful edges. It is such a joy to walk over this small stone plain in silence, with the big noise of the falls the only thing you hear.

Past the small plain, there is a little path that runs along the cliff edge of the river valley, about a foot or so wide, although it shrinks down towards nonexistence in spots. Taking that path, using my hands on the tread worn smooth rocks for stability when necessary, I made my way through this tight passage to where the valley widened and the trail was easy again. I walked on for about five or ten minutes more, until I came to a fork. One path lead meanderingly uphill, and the other continued south. Looking at the time on my mobile, I decided it was about time to turn around and go home. I determined that I would go up the short trail to see where it lead and to check out the view. The southbound trail would wait...that would give me something to look forward to on my next walk.

I walked to the top of the trail, which was only about forty or fifty feet, and found that it branched off of another trail. Both directions on the trail looked equally promising, one leading into denser wood and the other to a grassy area full of birches. This would have to wait for another day as well, and I turned around.



On my way back down the trail, I noticed a little path, most likely one blazed by deer and raccoon, cutting off of the trail towards the river, which was about a hundred feet off the path. I decided to check it out, and made my way along, and under the tree that had broken off about six feet above the ground and fallen over the path, like a little gateway.

As I got to within about thirty feet of the river, I heard it babbling over a few rocks that were sticking up out of the riverbed. It was flowing pretty strongly. I could still hear the construction machinery, and that upset me a little at first, not to be able to hear the water undistracted. But upon reflection, it almost seemed like it’s a shared secret between me and the river, like a tempestuous or loquacious child whispering in my ear.

I noticed a small, still pool, about ten feet wide and across, behind a grove of trees and cluster of rocks. The soft, loamy soil around the pool had grown a carpet of brilliant green moss, lending an even more enchanting feature to it’s storybook appearance. Within about ten feet of the river, the tall grass and reeds are bent flat in the direction of the current, so I carefully tested each step for support as I made my way to the river’s edge. When I got there, I knelt in silence, with my hand dangling in the cold swiftness of the water.

After a while, I tuned back to the pool. I walked over to it. It was so peaceful and beautiful. The water surface was still and undisturbed, except for the smooth grey and pink rock that stuck out in such a very zen way, and a large fallen branch that was sticking out of the water, completely throwing off the chi, in my opinion. I made up my mind to remove the offensive branch and did so, pulling it out and chucking it into the woods in one smooth motion. Facing back towards the pool, I saw lively ripples on the once glass-smooth surface of the water. Then I noticed the stench. Maybe I shouldn’t have stirred up the organic matter...that really kind of ruined the moment for me. Then I went home for some hot cocoa.

2 Comments:

At 5:40 AM, Blogger "AG" said...

Even though I just had my coffee and am experiencing my daily a.m. mania I feel very soothed after reading this.

 
At 1:56 PM, Blogger sideshow bob said...

thanks ag...I just reread this post and found about twenty or so things I would like to change, but oh well...

 

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