Bridge out

I work in Lawrence, Massachusetts right next to the Merrimack River. In fact, I can see the water from where I am sitting right now (although my view is now obscured by foliage). In this stretch of Lawrence, there are four bridges over the river. There’s the freeway bridge that 495 uses. There’s the “Duck Bridge”, a green metal 19th century construct which is right next to us. Then up river there are two more bridges, the nearest of which is currently under construction.

For the last two weeks, the Duck Bridge has been out of commission while they do some utility work on it, which has involved digging up the approaches and making lots of holes in the road. This has impacted me greatly. You see, daycare is on the other side of that bridge, almost exactly a mile away. I have had to drive around the bridge, but due to construction and traffic and lights etc. the bridge outage has added nearly 10 minutes to my “in Lawrence” commute. I usually go see the boys during lunch, but it has been taking prohibitively long to drive there so I’ve started walking. This has actually been lovely — to get out and get exercise. My only concerns are that it takes longer than I usually schedule, and I’m really not walking through the nicest parts of town. In particular there’s what can only be described as flop house that I pass. I’m careful to stay alert and not carry anything of value. But the exercise has been nice.

Another effect has been that there’s construction right outside my window. I could live without the jackhammers, but it’s been fascinating to watch them work. Construction workers are amazing with their big machines. The other day I watched this guy with a digger use it to pick up two construction cones and move them. I can’t believe the dexterity with which they use their machines, as though they’re extensions of their bodies. It’s very interesting.

The bridge is supposed to reopen this weekend, for now. But I’m informed that next year they’re going to totally rebuild the bridge. It certainly needs it. But it will be out for THREE YEARS at that point. I’m going to be severely impacted.

Ah well. Maybe it will result in me getting more exercise!

What I spend my brain cells on

Usually at lunch I head across the bridge to daycare. It’s maybe a mile and a half. Four stoplights. It takes longer than you think it should, but I get to daycare in under 10 minutes, spend 15 minutes with the boys and head back. It’s a nice interlude in my day.

On Monday, they closed the bridge for repairs. I can’t really argue. It needed it. The bridge was built in the 1800s and is made out of a metal mesh. You can see under your tires to water — by design. It wobbles when you cross it. It’s hardly confidence-inspiring. It will probably be closed for a month. Right now I have a great view of the construction and there is a very large hole in the approach to the bridge. Your stimulus dollars at work.

This is all well and good, but it makes that trip to daycare longer. This is compounded by the fact that the NEXT bridge up the river is ALSO under construction and has been for ages. This I consider to be bad planning. Finish one first THEN move on to the next bridge.

So what do I do at lunch?

My options are:
1) Walk to daycare. Tempting in the nice weather. Will take longer than the budgeted amount of time.
2) Drive to daycare. I’m trying various alternate routes to see which one is least obnoxious.
3) Use lunch to go check out preschools. This is probably what I should do instead of hanging out with my three year old peeps.

I keep deciding to do one. Then changing my mind. Then changing it again. I have half an hour until it’s time to go, and I still have no idea which one I’m going to do!

I’m working on this query that has so far taken 25 minutes and isn’t done yet. (Which would be why I’m working on it.) I wonder if it will be done before it’s time to go! Working on performance always takes forever because every time you test it, by definition it takes a long time!

I walked. It was lovely. It’s about 15 minutes each way. (You can still cross the bridge on foot.)

And the query took 38 minutes and 33 seconds. While it was running I rewrote it. It now takes less than three seconds. I could probably file it down further if I spent some time on it.

The crow

I have composed this post in my head a hundred times. It starts at the same place, at the same time. I walk out of my office, laying down myself as a worker on my way to daycare where I will pick up myself as a mother. 

Between work and daycare are the ravens.

I’ve never quite worked out the difference between rook, raven and crow. They’are all filed under “large black birds that go caw”. They’ve always been around me. In the deep dusky August forests on the slopes of ancient Northwestern mountains, the caw of the crow is the only bird song you hear. I have sometimes wondered why there are no songbirds or warblers among the firs. There aren’t. Just the crows. 

My vision of the crows pulls deeply from what I have read. There is, of course, Poe’s infamous raven. But there are also the dark clouds of menacing birds in deserted Hollin (points if you know the source), the attack of ravens in “The Dark is Rising”, the violent menacing swarms of Robert Jordan’s world, the Northwest Indian trickster and the wise bird of Celtic mythology. They swirl together in my mind in a circling upward spiral.

On my journey between places and persons, I watch the crows flock in the twilight. The flock is vast. There must be nearly a thousand birds. Sometimes they blacken the tree by the Merrimack so thickly that their wings are like leaves in summer. Sometimes they perch in strangely even spacing across the roof of the abandoned mill. Sometimes they circle in the wind in noisy motion, gilded by the glow of twilight.