By Rebecca Boger
Here are a few thoughts about the canoe trip we took today, May 5, 2012. There is no particular order of importance, rather a kind of stream of consciousness.
I saw a hawk, or at least I think it was one. Going down the river, there was a neat contrast between the upper reaches where we started and the downstream portion. Paddling upstream, I almost didn’t realize I was in urban Bronx. It was more ‘natural’ with trees and I could hear the birds, although near the starting point the roar of the traffic was strong. When we were around the zoo, it was beautiful and serene. At one point we saw the bison in the zoo. I wondered what this place would have been like when the Lenapes lived here before Europeans. God. It is beautiful now. What was it like then? I guess, though, beauty is a matter of perception. When we were downstream, there was a different type of beauty in seeing the industrialization – the elevated trains, buildings, bridges, stacks. Sometimes, I felt as if I were in a sci fi film when you could see nature taking over abandoned buildings and bridges, and when there was a tall base of an old bridge looming in the middle of the river for no apparent reason other than telling a story of the past. I thought nature does want to exist. It goes on in some fashion despite human efforts to manage, conquer and even destroy. Along the boulders and exposed bedrock, intricate roots would crawl and grasp the rocks. Beautiful! I could tell that it had rained fairly recently. The water was muddy. When starting I was pleasantly surprised at how clean the river was – there wasn’t much garbage. This changed, however, downstream where more garbage was seen. This needs to change. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could share the river with the other creatures in a healthy way? We could swim with the fish and beaver. Instead, when I got home, I immediately bathed. I felt dirty when water should be cleansing. I’m sure that it is a lot better than what the river has been, but we have a long way to go. At the end of the journey, we met an activist who has worked many years to make the urban place a better place. We need to continue doing this. As a scientist, I looked at the river and saw geomorphological features and processes– erosional undercutting along the stream banks, the high water mark, longitudinal and lateral sand bars, hard rock shoreline structures exposed bedrock (not sure if gneiss or schist), waterfalls. Oh, it was great to see the eel habitat areas! This must be the time of year when they migrate. The river must have been an incredible shad and alewive spawning area. Are there any now? Probably not.
I think this is all for now. I have not edited anything. I think I want to keep it this way for now.