Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Road improvements?

Last Summer the county was busy replacing a bridge on County Road 36 over the Sunrise River. This Summer a nice, new cement bridge deck contrasts with the blacktopped road and sometimes, especially on a very sunny day, creates optical illusions at the bridge, like it is "floating" or there's something standing in the roadway.

bridge construction bulleting board
bridge construction bulleting board
Photo by J. Harrington

Before the bridge improvements, there actually were lots of Canada geese standing or sitting on or near the road. Most of the time drivers would slow down and drive around those who had encroached on the cartway. Occasionally, a car wouldn't slow or swerve enough and there'd be an explosion of feathers followed by a dead goose in the road. This year we've seen few geese on or near the road around the bridge. I'm not sure if the issue is that new and extended guardrails block the geese's lines of sight or that last Summer's construction activity caused avoidance of the commotion and next year the geese will be back loafing along the shoulder. It could be both, or neither.

Canada geese loafing along roadway
Canada geese loafing along roadway
Photo by J. Harrington

I have mixed feelings about it all. I miss watching goslings grow. I don't miss seeing dead geese lying in the road. It's one thing if a recently departed goose represents a meal for a family, like a Christmas goose. I'm not even sure if any of the cadavers we've seen became food for foxes or coyotes that live around here.

So far this Summer we've seen fewer sandhill cranes, whitetail fawns, turkey poults and almost no snakes. I'm not sure if local populations are down or it's just coincidental or ...? It's also possible that we've just spent less time "looking," but that doesn't seem likely either. For now, let's file it all in the "Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved" file.

Prophecy



Dana Gioia, 1950


Sometimes a child will stare out of a window
for a moment or an hour—deciphering
the future from a dusky summer sky.

Does he imagine that some wisp of cloud
reveals the signature of things to come?
Or that the world’s a book we learn to translate?

And sometimes a girl stands naked by a mirror
imagining beauty in a stranger’s eyes
finding a place where fear leads to desire.

For what is prophecy but the first inkling
of what we ourselves must call into being?
The call need not be large. No voice in thunder.

It’s not so much what’s spoken as what’s heard—
and recognized, of course. The gift is listening
and hearing what is only meant for you.

Life has its mysteries, annunciations,
and some must wear a crown of thorns. I found
my Via Dolorosa in your love.

And sometimes we proceed by prophecy,
or not at all—even if only to know
what destiny requires us to renounce.

O Lord of indirection and ellipses,
ignore our prayers. Deliver us from distraction.
Slow our heartbeat to a cricket’s call.

In the green torpor of the afternoon,
bless us with ennui and quietude.
And grant us only what we fear, so that

Underneath the murmur of the wasp
we hear the dry grass bending in the wind
and the spider’s silken whisper from its web.


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