Sunday, April 11, 2004


The river's receding, and the lowland along the bank is scattered with every imaginabile species of beverage container from Poland Springs, Dasani and Dunkin Donuts, to Budweiser, Seagram's, Pepsi, Coke and even Jumex Tamarind Nectar in the New 10% More Contour can. I saw plastic and glass bottles, cardboard, plastic and styrofoam cups, soda and beer cans, a cardboard Bud case wedged in a bush, even a five gallon springwater spigoted keg lying on its side like a beached whale.

We, apparantly, thirst. And powerfully.

The spectacle of the detritus of unslakable thirst befouling the already foul river is disheartening. The river is undrinkably contaminated, and buying expensive bottles of Brand Name water in unbiodegradable containers has become a craze, as has, apparantly, hurling the empties on the ground.

But amidst the trash (and I'm good to go for the river clean up in two weeks!) and upstaging it, is spring. I'm not enough of a botanist to identify most plants from their fledgling rosettes and seedlings, but already the ground ivy with its round, cobblestoned and scalloped leaves, is flourishing. A bracing green amidst gray and brown. Other sprouts -- feathery, succulent, blade-like -- are pushing up between dead leaves.

At the margin between field and wooded riverbank a few grape hyacinths are flowering, gloriously purple.

And, in the muck, a snake slithered by; noticing me, it stopped. It was small, black with dull yellow lengthwise stripes. It raised its head and looked at me. Too fascinated to be afraid, I crept closer, focused, and snapped a picture. And another. Then my brain whirred on: you ninny, that's a friggin' SNAKE ! What if it's a water moccasin or a copperhead, I thought, rummaging through my toybox of childhood nightmares, pioneers slashing the skin above snakebites with rusty knives, sucking out the venom, grisly, unbearably painful deaths. It was probably a garden snake.

Midair, the alders are hosting an incredibly sexy dance. All winter the little female "cones" and the longer male catkins have been tightly bundled against the cold making hard, dark sillhouettes against gray sky and snow. Up close they were dark maroon/brown.

Now, the male catkins have become swollen and feathery with tiny flowers and are polllinating the little club-like fledgling females beside them. Which will become cones that fall and seed the ground.

Perfect themes for Easter Sunday: thirst, death, resurrection, life.

May all beings be happy and free from suffering.

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