Our first slow travel trip of 2014 started with an early departure from Astoria via the M. The early light and sense of anticipation reminded me of many mornings taking a cab to JFK or Laguardia. This day we snaked our way through Queens, catching the bus down the length and passing the storied Leo F Kearns Funeral Home. Our fellow seven AM holiday bus riders were not as excited about this sighting as I was. Clearly they have not had the Kearns family tamales. How could a family like that steer you wrong in your time of need?
We were early enough to hit the nicest chain shop in New York City for more coffee. (water views and a luxurious patio- Howard Beach!) Then we got lost wandering 157th street. And then we found the park. There was a sizable crowd of young people, many in Americorps sweatshirts, lined up to take part in the park cleanup.
This little corner of wetlands, wedged between the Cross Bay Expressway and a large housing development built on fill, has been a dump for passerbys for a long long time, and the area suffered significant flooding in the Hurricane. Parks officials hope that by restoring the wetlands, they will also protect the nearby communities. But first we have to clean them up of thousands of bottles, bags, clothing, tires, car parts, shopping carts, old vcrs, and dog skeletons. Lots of paint and concrete and excess building materials.
The first spot we chose to clean had the above treasures poking out of the ground. If it were summer we wouldn’t have seen them amidst the brush.
It was satisfying work, even though when we left at noon we could still see much more trash to be removed. And I felt deeply satisfied because I was doing the kind of thing I want to be doing on a holiday, not just thinking about it and scheming for better weather or health or more time. And my husband was extremely indulgent and a good sport. We packed tea and sandwiches and worked together to haul large items out of the phragmites. It was nice. Then we went to our friends’ house who took us out for burgers and onion rings. So much reward for so little work on a day when we might have sat nursing our lingering colds in front of the tv.