Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ogle 'Em If You See 'Em

After yesterday's thunderstorms, today's air felt scrubbed clean.

Mac and I set out for a walk of fairly epic proportions - 6.82 miles, as it turned out - and returned sweaty, smelly and satisfied. How much more can a woman ask of a friend first thing in the morning?

Heading directly to Brown's Island, I had the brilliant idea that we should begin by walking Belle Isle to see what the lower river levels looked like after the recent flood stage levels.

Now that the water has receded, it's clear just how much of the island's edge the swollen water "ate" away during those torrential days and how uncomfortably close the path around the island is to a precarious drop-off now.

Over near the quarry pond, we chatted with a shirtless guy ("Easy on the eyes," was how Mac described him) who works for one of the outdoor companies who host activities on the island. My question to him was when the floating dock was going to be rebuilt on the pond.

Two years ago when the deck came down, a park employee assured me it would be rebuilt during the off season. Two off seasons later, still no dock. The large, square space was ideal for fishing, for watching the climbers on the rock wall opposite and for education, since a sign explained the quarry's original uses.

It seems to me that if the city can't find the funds, surely a Kickstarter by the Friends of the James River Park could raise enough to build a simple floating dock. The guy was a font of information, sharing with us that a canal runs under the island and river water feeds the pond, which actually holds cleaner water than the river despite its constant movement.

He also shared that during their summer activities in the past, they always had the kids jump off the dock into the pond to start their adventure. Apparently the lack of a dock now denies Richmond youth the distinctive pleasure of hurtling into a quarry pond.

We were able to easily get out on rocks near a rushing stream of water and abandon our shoes and socks for a whirlpool foot bath and a fine view of the skyline. After sitting there a minute or so and taking it all in - the sunshine, the cool water, the view of Hollywood cemetery - Mac said softly, "I love my city."

Ditto, girlfriend. What neither of us could comprehend was the young woman sitting nearby, her ears encased in headphones that surely blocked out the life-affirming sound of rushing water.

Crossing back over Brown's Island, we headed directly for the pipeline walkway, where yesterday I'd seen kayakers hot-dogging in the rapids, rolling underwater and back over, and a clutch of young Mennonite-looking women in long dresses and head coverings who asked me to take a picture of their inaugural pipeline adventure.

Today's interaction was with a trio of fishermen - one missing a lot of teeth, but this is the South - who were pulling up a fishing line heavy with 4 or 5 one and two-foot fish, according to them, catfish, bluegills and something else that got swallowed in translation.

Their dilemma was how to get this bounty of fresh-caught fish up the ladder that wraps the pipeline, with one angler asking if we knew where they could get a mini-crane to aid the cause. Corny, yes, but I cut him slack since pride and male hunting and gathering were involved.

Further along the pipeline, we got more eye candy when a young guy in slacks and a button down white shirt stripped to the waist, draped his shirt on a tree branch, pulled out a fishing rod and went from businessman to fisherman right before our eyes.

"Ooh, plaid boxers!" Mac observed, ogling again as we walked by him on our return leg across the pipeline. Plaid, we decided, is a deal-breaker for neither of us.

Everywhere we went, enormous magnolia trees were full of blossoms fresh and fading and Queen Anne's Lace bloomed in profusion, providing a classic Southern summer tableau.

Just not quite as titillating as half-clad guys.

No comments:

Post a Comment