Archive for July, 2011

Inwood Launch

Have you ever been to Inwood Hill Park? It’s beautiful. And damned interesting. It’s as close to what Manhattan was like for millennia. Glacial scarred rocks, caves, the last salt marsh of the island, and, arguably, virgin forest. Can’t remember the last time I ever heard anything claiming to be a virgin.

I had recently tossed one from the developed nose of the island, so it seemed a good time to pitch one from the (relatively) untouched tail of the island. Apparently this is also where the infamous sale of Manhattan took place. Used to be a big tulip tree marking the spot. Now there’s just a big rock with a plaque. The history of this city is amazing – natural and manmade. Here’s another book to consider –
A nice book as an overview and introduction to the plants, animals, ecosystems, and parks of the city. I did a map for them and although they spelled my name wrong, they thanked me before Michael Bloomberg in the acknowledgements. So we’ll call it even.

It was a brilliant day and I wrangled my friends Eddie and Allison to make the trek with me. Allison had lived in Inwood years back, so she was an excellent guide. We wound our way through the hills of the park and looked for a suitable launching point. I had wanted to do it around Spuyten Duyvil. I know the currents there are screwy and I was curious as to what the bottle would do. Get caught in a whirlpool or something? We thought about crossing the railroad tracks to a good spot, but then didn’t feel up to scaling the fence. Or getting run over by the train. Probably the only thing Amtrak is able to accomplish with efficiency.

It was feeling very “Stand By Me” with the three of us. We didn’t see a dead body, but I did see something scarier on the way up – a shirtless white guy with dreadlocks. Is it too much to ask that white people stop having dreadlocks? He was of that “active hippie” variety which I thought had died out. He was quite concerned with showing off his abdomen and I thought he was going to capoeira his way right onto the train. Thankfully, we were spared.

We wandered south and found a very nice spot under a tree by the river with the New Jersey (pride swelling) Palisades as a backdrop.

The tide was heading out and when I tossed the bottle I wasn’t sure where it was going to go. The surface of the water looked very current-confused, and to my surprise it started drifting upstream steadily.

There’s a Ring-billed Gull in this one.

I was hoping the bottle wouldn’t head back in and crack on the rocks when something far more interesting came along. A parakeet. He landed on the rocks and was sort of playing (dying?) in the river.

He didn’t seem to have much in the way of street smarts, and in fact looked more like a snack for a feral cat. Allison is really good at rescuing things, so she set about doing just that.

Allison has an African Grey Parrot named Fidel. I’ve always been creeped out by the idea of a pet that can outlive you with one wing tied behind its back, but she gets a kick out of him. I’ll admit he’s got a nice tail and is pretty funny when he regurgitates sounds from The Real Housewives and moving trucks at the same time.

The parakeet would let us touch him, but would skirt away as soon as we’d try to pick him up. We debated if it was better for him to have a brief free life, but when he started eating gum from the sidewalk it was a bit depressing. I tossed my t-shirt over him and picked him up. He seemed pretty subdued. Either that or the French level BO from my t-shirt knocked him out. While showing him to some friendly people he flew out, and one of the women picked him up with such a deft and gentle hand. She said she had two already, and we convinced her to make it three. She seemed very sweet and I’m sure he’s gone to a good home.

Unless after she said she, “had two already”, she whispered aside, “…for breakfast…”

Ted’s Corner™: I chucked a bottle from Inwood. I don’t like when white people have dreds.

Second Bottle Found

A second bottle was found! Let’s hope it’s not the last. And let’s hope I didn’t just jinx anything by even mentioning it. Although I really can’t complain. 2 out of 5 ain’t bad. In fact, it sounds like that might be some sort of impressive fraction. Not that I’m any statistician. I do eat meat after all. (there’s a longer story to that, but I won’t bore you… Ted)

At any rate, another bottle was found! By some absolutely great folks. Here’s an except from the email I received from Donna Marx:
“My husband found it on the south end of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Preserve in Broad Channel. I am giving him your phone number to him as he is asking me a million questions, how many bottles, what locations, etc., and you probably have a few for him too. I am also going to post a picture of it on my facebook page if you don’t mind.

We didn’t open the bottle yet. I gave it to our 7 year old son, who is totally enthralled with it. Made a little book and wants to bring it into his class to do a show and tell about it.”

And then Her husband Steve called. He was great. He found the bottle on the southern end of the bird sanctuary in Jamaica Bay. Steve is out in the bay quite a bit and keeps a boat at a friend’s place in Broad Channel. He had a lot of knowledge about the area and it’s history. May have to pick his brain again at some point.

I think the best part is the kid. How cool would it be to get your hands on something like that as a kid?

Donna wrote back and let me know that they opened the bottle with some other kids and adults from the neighborhood over the Fourth of July weekend. I can only imagine that the ceremony was conducted with pomp and circumstance. Horse drawn carriages, solemn oaths, that sort of thing. And fireworks of course.

The drawing they found inside was the Sooty Shearwater. Which is what I expected as it was heading in that general direction from where it was tossed. But landing at the bird sanctuary is a really fitting. First the scientists, now this. I will settle for nothing less than the third one to be swallowed whole by a pelican, and deposited wet and glossy at the grave of Thor Heyerdahl.

I really do hope more of these get found. An interesting portrait of who accesses the water could emerge.