Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Can we get a weather widget in the right column of the blog for Pico Rivera, CA please? Things might be a little hotter on this side o' the Calahari-like San Gabriel riverbed.
A cool thing about riding my bike to work along that man controlled drainage ditch is the changing ecosystem. When a solid rain falls and periodically through Spring as the snow at Baldy's tip runs down Azusa Canyon and floods the concrete, the pools become a haven for birds. Egrets and several other pencil-thin stemmed birds wade in to feed on river critters while Canadian geese gather and conspire to take off in a V. Gulls in hundreds if not thousands dangle and gossip. Ducks, jet-black birds with vermillion shoulders, tennis-ball colored finches, screeching Parrots, Falcons smaller than a grapefruit, semi-circled turkey vultures picking at a dead pit bull just beyond the fog...
The growth of meadowlike foliage with brilliant yellow flowers and lush green vegetation provide a pretty landscape for a few short weeks.
The changing climate allows fleeting moments of plenty for the animals, which all move on as the sun gains stamina. It must be difficult on the people who live under the bridges where the river meets Lower Azusa and the 10. At times there are signs of people between Peck and up much of the way. Half-heartedly hidden tents amid the mid-river trees, apparel spread along the rocks near a drainage, a trophy, a desk, cigarette packs, a bike, a tattered lawn-chair, cans; there are people living and functioning without a roof.
Along the trail I pass some of the same people, headed for vocation in the opposite direction. I make sure to say hi to each one. I pass by paĆ­sas on horse-back who always offer a proud wave, along the stretch of stalwart urban ranches that line the trail. There are horses, ponies and miniature cows that have remarkably long horns for their diminutive frames, with chickens, mutts and pest-control cats peppered in between. Seemingly suicidal ground squirrels, rabbits and fence lizards dart immediately in front of my bike on the path, each time narrowly escaping without incident.
I take the surface streets beginning with Ramona. Then a right on Maxson, cut over on Killian or Emery, right on Cogswell and I pass several streets where my Dad once lived. The neighborhood is not like when his family lived there. There are many pedestrians scouting for recyclables, teens out strolling who ought to be in a classroom and "gentleman's" clubs are conspicuous. Liquor stores, payday advances, discount shoe stores dispensing Jordans that cost a paycheck... all-pervasive graffiti. Soon-to-be fathers will some day marvel at how the same neighborhood has further changed in a generation.
I arrive ten minutes early in Monrovia, to cool down and tidy up a bit before walking in to work. Even with minimal sign that I have been doing cardio, people seem puzzled that I would choose to ride my bike to work...


  1. Your new weather sticker is now posted in a prominent position! I am not at all puzzled that you would ride to work. I often rode to school and work.

  2. You are such a good writer. I loved reading your descriptive narrative. I could picture the urban oasis in the midst of all this concrete. Thank you for telling this account.

  3. I agree with Cindi. You are so descriptive and know so much about the flora and fauna. However I haven't noticed any decrease in the parrot population around here.