March 23rd, 2016

Things and Stuff and Horseshoe crabs

Yestereday I took Sabir to the park, and the beach of the horseshoe crabs. He does not like to go into the water, but he likes to dig in the sand, and he likes to watch the gulls and geese.

The park was designed by Calvert Veaux, the same guy who worked with Fredrick Law Olmstead to design Central Park. This park is not as big and fancy as Central park,of course, but it is well used. There are always people on the running track, or playing tennis, or having a picnic.

And there is a lovely view of the Verrazzano narrows and the bridge.

Here is a link for those who like them.

I have written about the park before, I know, and about the horseshoe crabs which I love. I did not see any crabs in person yesterday morning. I did not expect to. I did see the first huddled daffodils, green spears only, looking like people who got off a bus in the wrong town. But I went out onto the sand and found something wonderful.

It was the print of a crab, at the tide-line. She came ashore at high tide with the equinox, to lay her eggs in the sand. She is early, I did not see any other prints. In June there will be hundreds. And she was HUGE! Maybe 15 inches across the carapace. I could see the marks of her many legs, and the long line where she dragged her tail behind her. At that size she might be 20 years old. She has been coming to that spot to lay her eggs, where she herself hatched, and her mother, and her mother's mother. I wish I could have seen her.

Mike and I have made a point of going out in June to help the ones who get stuck in the sand. If they get too dry, or the sand is too soft they can get in real trouble. You have to lift them gently and put them back in the water. That long scary looking tail is for unsticking themselves, but it does not always work. people who don't know any better are sometimes awful to them because they look so frightening. They think the tail must be a stinger or something. And the scrabbling legs underneath are kind of startling. I worry that kids will hurt them. They are fragile out of the water. The park has put signs up saying they are harmless and important, but I worry anyway.

Went back this morning, but the moon and tide were wrong now. Nobody had been. Sabir did see some Russian ladies feeding the seagulls bread. He was eager to be fed bread too. But we hurried home after that.

I really like the way nature has not caved in totally to the humans who are doing NYC. There are plenty of wild plants and animals still. There is a family of opossums living under the Coney Island boardwalk, (on the beach side of the spit, opposite the park.) They have made it through the winter, mild as it was, and now they can spend the summer gorging on discarded ice cream cones, and an endless supply of Nathan's hot-dogs. There are raccoons, and muskrats. I have seen those. There are turkey vultures too, across the water in Bayonne. And all down along the Jersey highways which must be like an all you can eat buffet for for them. (They favor New Jersey, perhaps for that reason.) And there are fish and sharks off the beach. I see people fishing. I would not eat the fish from here myself, but I am ridiculously picky about fish. There are deer too, up in the Bronx, and coyote, foxes and even beavers. I have never seen any of those here. It makes me happy to know that they are out there.

I feel as if I have been away from real writing for a long time. Somehow this winter my fiction fell sadly off. Not sure why. It is so easy to let daily life get in the way. Easy to loose the trick of making a clear place in my head to see how the words need to go. It is hard work for me, and I am terribly lazy. I am now trying to get into the right habits again. You guys will be able to see if it works. If I write anything decent at all I will put it up.

Ken Howard

I went to school with his step-daughter. I was aware of him the way all 15 year olds think of someone over 30. He was a dad sort of guy, not at all interesting to 15 year old me.

But I think he was a genuinely nice man. And he was a good actor as well. Now I am old enough to think he died younger than he might have liked. How the years rush along...