Dangers of not giving a second thought
The thought occurred to me as I stood on the roof during a break in Saturday’s showers and reached to clear the gutters that were still spilling over.
What could go wrong?
The soles to my shoes are ribbed. I had good footing. The roof has a modest pitch. I felt secure. Besides, I had done this countless times – even in bare feet and pajamas – without as much as a second thought.
Maybe it is “without as much as a second thought” that gets us in trouble. That seemed to be the case last Tuesday and early Saturday.
On Tuesday I decided to check out the fish counter station where Buckeye Brook flows under Warwick Avenue. “Station” makes the place sound more elegant than it is. A gauge giving the depth of the water is affixed to the bridge along with a thermometer. The fish are counted as they swim over a white slab that crosses the brook and the data is recorded in a log kept in a locked box.
The brook looks unfitting to be the focus of so much attention for so many years. In places it is narrow enough to be jumped. In other places it runs so shallow you could wade it. But the brook and its annual herring run has been a source of concern and controversy for decades. There was a time, and I remember taking pictures of the scene, when three or four fishermen with hand nets lined the banks at the Warwick Avenue bridge scooping out the buckeyes that were so plentiful they filled the brook and flopped in the shallows. There would have been no way of counting them.
Then there was the scare that hazardous waste leeching from the former Truk Away landfill off Industrial Drive had killed the brook. The stream below the landfill ran a green/gray and long stringy growths – perhaps a form of algae, although no one seemed to know what it was – clung to rocks and fallen branches. It was a witches’ brew devoid of life. The landfill was bought by the airport and closed. Then came the sweet smell of glycol during the winter months from aircraft deicing that left an orange scum on the rocks and banks.
The brook had its protectors, none more vociferous than the late Stephan Insana, who sounded the alarm and wasn’t fearful of saying who and what was responsible for desecrating the work of Mother Nature. In the years that followed the fish run declined and a prohibition on the taking of fish was implemented. Fish counts were started and the airport spent millions to capture deicing fluids. The brook seems to be recovering, although I doubt it will ever be what it was.
On Tuesday the brook looked serene, clean of shopping carts and tires, which often impede its flow, but without fish or anyone there to count them. A red-winged blackbird protested my presence.
I turned to head back to my car and without a second thought swung my leg over the guardrail separating me from the sidewalk. Instantly, a sharp pain shot through my left leg. I had slammed my knee into the protruding edge of the guardrail. I hobbled back to the car, cursing my stupidity.
Then Saturday morning at 5:30 I did the unimaginable of cutting my hand on the light hanging from the bedroom ceiling. I blame Ollie, of course, although it was really my fault. Yes, our coonhound was up early and ready to play. I tried ignoring him but finally relented and grabbed the other end of the rope he kept shoving at me. Surprisingly, I had it. I swung it around my head as he spun, leaping to catch it. And then without as much as a second thought I went to hurl it into the hall. My hand caught the lamp and now the rope was dangling from the light as I was nursing my hand. Ollie’s attention was glued to the rope.
So Saturday, as I was on the roof, I wasn’t going to let anything go unnoticed. I made the trip without incident.
If only some of us had thought about the consequences of our actions – where we stepped and where we threw things – maybe Buckeye Brook would be entirely different today.