or goddesses, in my opinion, and I am neither, so what am I doing flagging? Any port in the storm, I guess, and we were a worker short today on 114th Street in Queens, where the job was grinding stumps of the ash trees that we had removed last week. I am usually the arborist supervising the job, and my flag was rather pathetic.
I used to know a flagger on another job. Her name was Pauline but for some reason the crew insisted on calling her Paulina. She was Jamaican, and when she spoke to someone from her homeland I found her patois impossible to understand, though of course she spoke perfect English. She managed the eight lanes of traffic at 167th and Webster Avenue in the Bronx like she was coaxing a gaggle of hornet-tempered ballerinas into performing a beautiful Swan Lake, making sure each vehicle knew its proper place and nobody died.
When the traffic fumes choked me, I took refuge in the live poultry place, a misnomer because it also had rabbits, chickens and goats for sale, and, during Eid, fine young cows.
I socialized especially with the goats, and made plans to adopt one and give it to one of those farms that takes in orphaned creatures, until I called around and found that no one would take an animal from a live market on the theory that it would only encourage the practice.
In Queens, they use a Vermeer to grind the stumps.
When I first saw a Vermeer on a job, a bigger one, I thought it was so odd to name machinery after a fantastic Dutch painter.
But each has its own beauty, I guess. The stump grinder performs its function beautifully.
Standing on the sidewalk with my flag, I see that Queens is not without flamboyant flowering fruit trees.
A couple who had bought their home 50 years ago, they said, lamented the destruction of the ash trees across the street. They were sick, I tell them, they were dying. And I thought to myself, Look up and savor the gigantic Ginkgo bilobas with their tiny emerging fan leaves that grow on your side of the street.
Ancient Ginkgo trees aren’t getting sick anytime soon.