Monday, August 10, 2009

The Edge of Town

Eleventh Street makes a T where it hits KL Avenue, and foamy green retention ponds bask on all three sides. They’re real vigorous, verdant, vital little wetlands, throbbing with life. Colonies of cattails grow erect near the shore. The water beckons with banks of water lilies, their petals spread open wide to the sky.

A blue heron might stand sentry at the far end of the biggest pond, where a cast of ten thousand frogs performs dinner theater every night. At dusk, knobby brown groundhogs sprout like peanuts from the grass. Turtles crawl up from the pond too. They all have yellow racing stripes up their head and neck, and they come in all sizes: some like your fist, some like serving dishes. Some like serving dishes in more ways than one, because they try to cross the street. They’re flattened, the texture of their shells cracked like ancient leather. The little claws never look dead. They’d grab the end of a stick if you poked them.

I saw the driver of a boxy white van stop in time for one big turtle. The passenger jumped out, stood still in the first moment she looked down at the ponderous reptile in its sodden velvet mantle of algae. Then she slipped her fingers underneath and, with arms outstretched, carried the turtle to the other side of Eleventh Street, where it had urgent business: a busy day of eating, mating, and vegetating by the water’s edge as it collected the sun’s energy like an auspicious tessalating solar panel.

No comments: