Saturday, November 3, 2012

A walk

We really need bicycles.

Manhattan is generally a five minute hop on the subway. It's now a two mile hike from our front door, over the Brooklyn Bridge. That is Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 1, above, site of many summer picnics...

I took a walk.

Foot and bike traffic seemed normal. There were still plenty of tourists - perhaps some early marathoners in town, whose journey was for naught. The marathon has been canceled.

The unicyclist. This does not seem to be an easy way to travel. 

Once I had done my tour of the Financial District and Battery Park, I made my way north again, passing the helipad that feeds Wall Street, usually a hive of commercial chopper traffic, where the only aircraft were silent - two military choppers. Beyond them, on the far side of the mud-coloured water, is the Brooklyn Promenade, where I walked in Monday's gale, before the worst of the storm hit.

On a whim I abandoned my plan to walk back across the bridge, and boarded a water taxi. It was an aquatic yellow miracle, churning the water into beige bubbles, the only normal thing in sight. 

The first Staten Island ferry had just docked, due to leave with passengers for the first time the following day. The ferry terminal was tight shut. Aboard the taxi we were not allowed out on deck.The water is too contaminated, said the young guy taking my $5 bill for a one way ride past the Statue of Liberty to Ikea, in Red Hook. 

Unable to stand outside in the wind, I actually leaned back in my comfortable seat, and closed my eyes for two seconds. The harbor was choppy, the boat strong, the rhythm calm, the captain capable. I could have rocked there, riding back and forth, all day. Part of something that was working properly.

Here is Red Hook, already, trying to dry out. You can see the normal high tide mark. 

The red vessel that had chopped through the Buttermilk Channel earlier (we had met it as we rounded Governor's Island) also rested with us in the calm water behind Ikea.

Behind Ikea, there is an unexpected park of grasses. It was pristine. Two workers were bagging trash very neatly, laying the black plastic bags in precise rows, re-aligning dislodged cobble stones. In the slip next door, on the left, above, two tiny tugboats had puttered to life and were reversing, about to go and straighten out - I supposed - the unholy mess of water taxis that we had seen a day or two earlier. Or perhaps they were just getting the hell out of Dodge.

I walked down the empty back streets.

On Van Brunt my camera fell silent again. Fort Defiance was being cleared out. The owner did not have flood insurance, I heard him tell WNYC, later. The little restaurant we enjoyed so much in the summer has been trashed.

The sidewalks further on were now piled higher with discarded belongings, fuel still ran in rainbows on top of the water pumping without end into the streets. The lights were still off. People worked. I walked.

All the way home.

Later I realized what the song was in my head. The video is awful, but Johnny Cash is as good as he ever was, the religious underpinnings notwithstanding...

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