It’s only a bush. Heck, it might even just be a weed. It doesn’t sprout flowers or anything extraordinary. No one tends to it, no one waters it, prunes it or takes care of it. And year after year, it’s there; stubborn, determined, beautiful life.
It seems like 100 years ago we raised our glasses and wished each other a Happy New Year. Who knew? We’re now under curfew in the middle of a pandemic, tens of millions are unemployed, thousands are dead, and businesses are dying.
And yet, this funny little stubborn bush comes back year after year, determined to live out its beautiful life in peace.
Clearly it wasn’t planted there. Who would plant anything 12 feet up on the side of a bridge? It was probably a fierce wind that carried the spark of life to the bridge and nature took care of the rest.
It has to have been 15 years or more ago that we first spotted it while we were getting the tank filled at the service station at the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue. Once you see it, it’s impossible to miss.
In the summer, it gets quite full and resembles a nice hanging plant. In winter, it dies off and the side of the bridge is left bare, save for a few sticks and twigs, the skeleton of the bush that blooms impossibly every year on the border of Woodhaven and Ozone Park.
It’s hard to believe, but that viaduct across Atlantic used to be a worrisome thing on the minds of the residents of Woodhaven. We may have been in the midst of a World War (our second), but the minds of Woodhaven residents were preoccupied with this proposed viaduct.
It would divide the neighborhood, they said. It would be filthy and dirty and attract garbage, they claimed. They had hearings and meetings and public gatherings and several lawsuits were threatened.
One evening, at the nearby Wilmax restaurant (which is a strip club today), a fight broke out between people for and against the viaduct.
And here we are 80 years later, the fighting long forgotten and most people look at the bridge and wonder what all the fuss was about.
Time is funny that way. It’s always worse in the moment. It’s awful getting your tooth pulled, but once it’s over and the pain is in your rear view mirror, the memories of the suffering begin to fade.
It’s a simplistic view, I suppose, but I hope and pray that the pain and suffering and uncertainty we are all feeling will also begin to fade soon. We’re in the middle of quarantine, under curfew with violence in the streets, and underlying problems in this country that may not be solved in our lifetime.
And yet, day after day, we’ll wake up each day and live our lives. People will go to work. People will commute and go to the stores and eat and drink and smile and laugh and cry.
At times it might seem surreal, trying to live our lives as normally as possible under some very non-normal conditions. Some days, those conditions will be so concerning that we might seriously wonder if we’re going to make it.
But we’re all a bit like that bush on the viaduct. It sits exposed to the harshest of weather and breathes in the exhaust of thousands of cars every single day.
And yet it lives. It gets knocked down every winter and then it reemerges, stubborn and determined to live its beautiful life.
And we are no different. Right now, we’re feeling pretty low, knocked down by a pandemic and lockdowns and violence.
But we’ll come out of this just fine because we, too, are all determined to live out our beautiful lives in peace with one another. And like that stubborn wee bush high on the viaduct wall over Atlantic, we’ll bloom again.