04 September 2010

remember, remember: a Story, a swan, and a pilferer

After being shocked by a minor explosion in my development (which apparently was no big deal, since the few people outside didn't seem to react to it even though five car alarms did) and rehearsal for DRACULA and giving a voice lesson, this wanderer decided to go for a walk in the woods. Not easy, since I live in the armpit between the Long Island Expressway and Vets' Highway. But in consulting my charts and maps, I found that the Greenbelt trail runs right around these parts. So I went off to find Blydenburgh Park, where everything culminates. But... I parked in the wrong parking lot and found myself instead in Bill Richards Park.

One of my earliest memories (I was probably three) is of coming back to our tan Chevy Nova and discovering a rock had been thrown through one of the rear side windows and my mother's purse was gone. She'd left it in the car while we went for a walk in these woods. I remember wanting to help her pick up the pieces of shattered glass and dreams as she knelt on the ground sobbing, but she wouldn't let me. She didn't want me to cut myself on the sharp glass that lay all over the back seat. We couldn't call anyone; cell phones were not a thing yet, and I don't remember a pay phone being around. Somehow a cop did show up, though, and investigated the scene. Purse thieves were very difficult to catch, but they would keep an eye out for it. Meanwhile, she cancelled her cards and cried to my father about it. He was stone-faced then, as now. The purse itself showed up again, somehow, but the story is always the same. Empty.

But at this moment in the present, at the trail head in the parking lot of Bill Richards Park, I didn't recall this. I wanted to take a walk. So I walked, the trail following the stream and I following it as it flowed and befellowed me. We went together to where a pond set out, ebbing and not. I walked to its edge, on a small bridge built over my stream. A beautiful, pure white swan bottomed-up in the pool, and I could clearly see his head pulling at the pond muck. His neck curled back up and he tilted his head to look at me. He was unafraid.

The last time I saw a swan this close, we were on Carman's River, my friend and I, paddling a canoe through some tall reeds. It was a sunny springtime day. There were others in our platoon, and we were having a great time coming down the river through Southaven. As we glided around a bend, a large swan floated about 50 yards away. We'd all been told to avoid swans, especially around this time of year, since they're very territorial and overprotective of their nests. So we rafted and waited for this swan to clear, or give us an opening so we could continue. My friend, not the brightest, decided to splash around a bit with the paddle. The swan was not amused and spread his wings. There was no where we could go, really, but we tried anyway as the swan flapped his wings the way they do when they want to show how much tougher than you they are. And I was afraid.

Here, now, I was unafraid. This swan didn't see me as a threat, and I didn't see him as one. And we went about our business: he munching, I musing. Eventually he went to join his family, of which there were many, since I imagine this pond is extremely friendly to swans. I walked around the pond halfway before I had to come back since the trail had been overtaken by swamp. I wondered about what animal must burrow under trees near ponds, since there were many subterranean dwellings to be found along the route. And I wondered, too, why we are not so content to live with nature.

On my way back home, I found the place I originally planned to go. But sometimes we find the place we were meant to go on our way to planned destinations. And for this I am grateful.

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