Recyclable


   A man with many plastic bags on his handlebars bicycles along the path.

   The path is refreshed with new screenings, a spring preparatory ritual performed by the park maintenance crew. I walk on it for the first time today; this track has just been laid down.

    Dutchman’s Breeches bloom in one spot, delicate inflated yellow flowers.  A female cardinal, sophisticated in color, alights on a branch here. The air is warm and muggy. A few licks and curls of dogtooth violet leaves have begun to fill in at the base of one of the pine trees in a prepubescent way, signal of more growth to come.

  The celandine has begun to show sunny faces – the flowers have different numbers of petals, some seven, some ten or eleven, some eight. The simple brilliance of the wildflower makes it crisp and catchy. Near a bench, a clump of oniongrass, loosed from a child’s clench, is left rootless. A few yellow celandine heads with green leaves and stems have been plucked and dropped here and there.

   Two herons flew near Paper Mill road at 9:52 a.m. I had planned to turn back at the ten marker. When I reached that point, a couple relates they have seen fifteen or sixteen turtles at the locks. This suggested I extend the length and distance of my walk. When I reached the locks, I felt my heart sink a little, since I counted only six or seven turtles. I find them a cheerful sight, though, and their arrangement in interesting levels and angles on three fallen tree branches in the canal made up for the statistical decline.

   One of the top red sandstone rocks of the locks has two old bolts driven into it. Stray light grey stone bits have settled into the hollows around the metal bolt heads. To me, the pair looks like two eyes, bringing the rock to life.

   The bottom and water of the lock itself held the ovate shell of a large snapping turtle. A barbed caudal piece helped me identify it as something other than a submerged rock or giant scarab. I wondered if ten of the small turtles could have become one large one the time span between the couple’s being there and mine. Their ten or fifteen minutes and my ten or fifteen minutes to walk the section from 11 to 10 and 10 to 11. Is there a time interval?

   Ray, the man on the bicycle with the plastic bags, is out for the first time since winter. Ray has a handlebar mustache. The bags on the handlebars hold plastic bottles and aluminum cans he cleans up from the trail. Three bags, full.

   Pick of the Litter today was a small retail tag, pristine in condition, that I found white side up in the parking space next to my car upon arrival. The reverse side has three green arrows and the word Recyclable stretching across a yellow swatch.

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