Being a fan of urban possibilities, brass bands and street theater, I try not to miss the annual Urban Pond Procession.
This year’s parade started at Alvarez High School, where the kids were setting a rhythm with instruments made, found and bought. Tin cans, xylophones, sticks. They sounded good, clearly there is a band teacher involved. What Cheer Marching Band showed up later, with some monsters from Big Nazo. Whenever I see these guys I always wonder what H.P.Lovecraft would have thought.
Cranston Street, Elmwood, Reservoir. I drive down them a million times but walking through the side streets is a different view. Mashapaug Pond is a hidden oasis in a desert of concrete. We assembled by the boathouse in the park behind the Job Lot Plaza for music by Phil Edmonds of The Gnomes and a reading by Rhode Island’s poet laureate, Rick Benjamin. He chose Langston Hughes’ poem, ‘I’ve Known Rivers’. Four schoolgirls read it- the perfect words for the occasion. Lisa Abbatomarco channeled the Mashapaug Monster and led a chant of ‘yuck!’. Industrial pollution and stormwater runoff still haunt the pond. Beautiful as it is, it’s not safe for swimming.
The procession then moved out to the parking lot behind the Job Lot and straight into the woods. Where a path leads to a well-kept walk around the pond. Murphy Trainor Park. Who knew?
I walked to the edge. There were swans in the middle, and the Cranston Armory, a.k.a. ‘The Castle’ could be seen rising above the trees on the other side of the pond. But I did not see small fish, or frogs, or water skippers, or even many bugs. A few small dragonflies and a cloud of gnats. And, unfortunately, plastic bags and crushed gallon jugs.
Nature was kind today, the endless winter has turned to instant summer. There was a time when Narragansett Bay was abandoned to trash and pollution, but Save the Bay did just that. Mashapaug Pond is on the way back from neglect, and the Urban Pond Procession grows year by year.