February 6, 2016 “The Colossus of Roads”
The sky was washed blue and tree bark stage-lit brown and the remnants of the winter flood—driftwood, and dirty rock and straw—baked and decomposed. This was enough beauty for a four mile jaunt.
But it was a mere prelude: Over Thompson’s Bluff, eight bald eagles flew in the breeze, four adults and two juveniles, and a redtail hawk flew into the glide, and all the flyers coasted up and down the treeline. Two of the adult eagles touched wingtips and nipped at one another; love was in the air and courtship in full swing. I stood and watched for many minutes, and in this time became aware of singing cardinals and robins and finches.
The predators finally disappeared over the bluff top. I walked on west, toward Piasa Creek. I came upon a new feature: a polished granite bench set in newly turned earth by the walk, the back engraved with a modest poem and the words, “Dedicated to Carol Admire.” Ms. Admire, a beloved Altonian and dedicated biker, was killed by a car in the summer, very near this wonderful monument. And so I have a new geographical marker: Admire’s Bench.
I turned east at the creek and did my neck stretches, and I could put my chin on my chest, the first time since my surgery. I passed the eagle sighting point and looked behind me. In the same airspace, lines and strands and ribbons and ropes and trails and contrails of Great White Pelicans, hundreds of them, joined forces and formed a clockwise funnel and rose and swirled like milk in a glass, but this milk, this Colossus of Roads, gleamed; the sun lighting the column into liquid porcelain.
Again I stopped and gaped and prayed. I thought of Millenials, the generation locked in airtight cubes. Will they give away the national parks? Will they take down Admire’s Bench and pesticide the birds away? The cubed generation is perfect for Space exploration, enclosed and unexposed. Will they give a damn about Wild?
Near Clifton Terrace, other birds were gathering: young girls in shorts and yoga pants, and their bearded boyfriends. They’re not all in cubes—yet. An old man sat in his car and sipped coffee from a Styrofoam cup. Dogs sniffed each other’s butts. Waves of blackbirds flew by and river gulls floated downriver.
I told some walkers about the Colossus of Roads, a mile and a half away, and they stepped up their pace and headed westward. I told the car drivers and the motorcyclists even as they sped on with grim determination. Toward what? This question has no answer in a biosphere of birth and death.
I walked home, curled up with the cat and napped. Our dreams were Wild.