The most pathetic park in the Bronx

might be Corona Parkway Malls, at Southern Boulevard and Elsmere Place. Pathetic as in pathos, evoking pity or sadness.

Never visited? Trash is everywhere.

Despite avid, well-peopled efforts by the Parks Department to keep it clean.

I snapped her photo right before she told me No photos allowed. Really?

Lots of people make this park their home. People that don’t have a roof over their heads are up early, combing their hair, performing ablutions. Washing up at a fire hydrant. Fresh NYC water, among the best in the country (ranked 13th if you must know). Delivered from pristine reservoirs in the Catskills, and furthermore treated with fluoride, chlorine and ultraviolet light so it’s safe to drink.

Nodding out, first fix of the day. Good morning. On to another New York City day collecting bottles. This is what they refer to as an underserved community. Underserved? An understatement, that.

There might be a better city in which to be homeless. But how would you get there? Without anything in your wallet?

One person smoking, scowling, scratching, weeping, dancing by her bench in the style of Indian mudra, delineating shapes in the air with her hands and fingers. Wasted. Grime-tan. I watch her for a while, can’t help myself. She takes her time opening a sleeve of crackers, then polishes them off. Hard to know where crackers go in that skinny little body.

Waiting for my man. (Lou Reed, of course.) This Man comes through in a spiffy pork pie hat and anime tee shirt, collecting fistfuls of cash and deposit ing product in palms. Someone had an open fire one recent night. At 7am, only cinders remain. And a half-full beverage

Amid the wreckage, beauty. Life. Even nature. Red in tooth and claw. (Tennyson.) Pigeons walking the tightrope of a branch. A young London plane.

Common buttonbush – Cephalanthus occidentalis.

Buttonbush in the wild can attract more than two dozen species of bird, including kingbirds, towhees and hummingbirds.

Everlasting roses.

This is Jade. She sticks close, doesn’t need a leash. Nuff said.

Coneflowers that would present the same glowing amethyst countenance in a luckier person’s country garden.

A well-endowed shrine on the site of a historical obelisk.

Memorializing two loved ones short-term visitors to the neighborhood will never know.

Lest you wonder what I’m doing here, I have a job — inspecting the site of a working sidewalk construction crew to make sure no trees in their path some to harm.

So far, no harm, no foul. I’m watching over a 90″ American elm, doing my best to shield it from the ravages.

What is compassion? Is a trait we reserve for humans (sometimes!) or does it extend to trees? Trees care for us, of course – they cannot help it, it’s the way they roll.

Flaggers, lifeblood of the construction industry. Keeping us all safe. Thank you, men. (These flaggers happen to be male, but the women flaggers I’ve met are some of the most fierce mama bears in existence.)

You’d have to work pretty hard and pretty carelessly to break a honey locust. Here they are bringing forth their young seed pods. Cattle in another place like to feed on the green goo that grows inside once they ripen and fall.

Great as these trees might be for urban areas, the powers that be where I live have seen fit to demolish mature honey locust trees in our downtown in order to install new sidewalks. Including half a dozen mature, shade-throwing specimens.

Here in Corona, honey locusts thrive. To the credit of a powerful Parks Department, we do not damage trees in New York City, let alone cut them down.

The shade they cast has been proven crucial to keeping people alive in the sizzling temperatures we have had recently, as the earth fries.

We all need canopy. It’s not an extra, an add-on. It is a life preserver.

Bystanders like to check out what’s going on. Take the morning air, catching what faint breeze there is.

A lucky tree – hurting, perhaps, damaged, yet soldiering on. As if the tree pit wasn’t small enough already, you can see three types of unwanted material dumped at its base. Yet it grows.

Is there still a chance to do better by these folks who call Corona Parkway Malls home? Tree canopy is a start. That goes for everyone, not just the most obviously broken. Which is why it’s a privilege to do a little something to protect this tiny piece of the land, this patch of urban forest, even if only to ensure the backhoe keeps away from the roots.

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