Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Cleaner banks

I almost didn't walk today at lunchtime, but I knew it was the only exercise I would get. I walk along a levee almost every day at lunch.

The bicycle sat there for several months, at least. I could see it from the road, from the bridge over the river, but only if I stopped and leaned over the rail. It was on the bank, almost completely submerged, and just out of sight of any of the trails, where other noontime walkers might see it. The tules and cattails in the creek hide egrets, jackrabbits, squirrels, snakes, butterflies, and huge grasshoppers and dragonflies. They should not be home to an abandoned bicycle.

I thought several times about fishing it out. Bicycles don't belong in fragile waterway ecosystems. Of course, it's only visible and in mind when I cannot do anything about it. I do not change out of my office apparel to go walking, and the bike was out in the water a bit. I had even thought of coming back on a Saturday with a broomstick and rope, or something, but what on earth would I do with a muddy bicycle once I extracted it?

Today, I saw a work crew at the top of the ramp. Whether because of recent rains or because of the work in the area, the water was lower today than it has been. As I approached, the workers were jabbering in Spanish too fast for me to take in. My high school Spanish is pitifully rusty, but I mentally composed an explanation of where this bike was. I'd like to say I used it successfully, but the guy I talked to spoke fluent English, too. Though puzzled, he agreed to send somebody down there to remove the bike.

I watched long enough to know that one of the workers, already garbed in muddy boots and a jumpsuit climbed down the bank and pulled the bike out. It was further down than it looked. I have no idea what they will do with a muddy bicycle. I hope they will toss it in the back of one of their trucks and dispose of it properly.

The river god scene in Hayao Miyazake's Spirited Away was inspired by his participation in a cleanup effort, in which Miyazake removed a bicycle from a waterway. I am relieved that I had a hand in freeing my local waterway of its own two-wheeled intruder.


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