The reservoir's historic structures & ecosystems are an opportunity to create a unique environmental education center for our children & their future.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Letter from the Heart

I have a lot of updates to catch up on, but I'd like to start with something special. A young woman sent a letter to us a few days ago. It was a "thank you" note, as well as, the wonderful memories of a child's discoveries in a special wildness along the Brooklyn and Queens border. She was clearly affected in a positive way by her explorations in nature at the Ridgewood Reservoir. How could those experiences be denied to today's and tomorrow's children?

Date: March 30, 2009 1:08:23 AM EDT
Subject: To this amazing site

If you could just bear with me while I echo my thanks for this amazing site and movement you have brought.

I stumbled upon your site tonight. I am currently 413 miles away from my home, Bushwick, NY. I am one of those few Bushwick kids that got out and "made it." I'm not so young to dwell in disparities or so old to dwell in nostalgia. I write this to thank you from the heart of my childhood memories and most deepest emotions. I started playing in Highland Park when I moved there with my family at 5 years old. My father always had a conglomeration of childhood mischievousness and outdoor need that lead to our yearly migration to the northeastern-most parts of Bushwick.

My parents warned my brothers and friends to never enter the steps across the street from the parks. Back then this area was riddled with enough Law & Order plot-lines to supply many seasons worth of material. As I grew bolder I snuck off and discovered these lands for myself. It was incredibly stupid and dangerous to let a prepubescent girl explore these dark areas of Bushwick before when it was brooklyn-brewery-politicos-and-victorian-corsets Bushwick. And no one would believe the things I saw. The birds, the flowers, the smells, the old wrought iron fences, the slightly newer yet equally as old chain link fences, the pump houses, the swamps, the brick wall enclosures. I had no idea what this space was. I had no idea what the adjacent bridges were as well.

Enough convincing prompted my family into towing their old video camera with them. We took "Jacques Cousteau" nature videos. In between my cousin's scraped knees and dramatic reflections of mother bird feedings, we ate ham and cheese sandwiches. I put unnamed flowers into my hair. I was a fearsome little sprite after my trips around the reservoir. Twigs, bird feathers, bugs, slugs, scrapes and flowers all over.

You come down from the place, geographically and emotionally. What few moments I get to be home I take the opportunity to do my rounds--to speak--of the place. I check for the same sites, new additions, new sounds, new smells. If I have enough time I can witness the "flattening of time." That is, the speed in which birth, life and death takes place in this pressure cooker of nature. These observations, I feel in my own hopelessly optimistic heart, produce a peace where there appears to be none. Where in all the places of NYC did I expect to find Nature's recourse, if not in the place that needed it the most?

I am eager to join your cause, to be informed. The only piece of Nature I was exposed to as little kid was not the carefully manicured fields of Central Park or even Highland Park's unruly grassy manes, but in the reservoir. Nature: unbridled, reclaimed, fearsome, wild, and so content to be its own!

Thank you.

Zoila Rojas

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1 comment:

ISanoff said...

I read this and re-read it. It puts a face on why this area needs protection.

This confirms what I have been saying all along: Places like Ridgewood Reservoir give kids a unique opportunity to play, to discover, to imagine and to learn in a fashion that cannot be duplicated. Playing team sports or going to a museum, while worthwhile activities, cannot match what this writer experienced. This is similar to what I felt growing up half a block from Prospect Park. I climbed through all the brush on the hillsides and learned what a horse chestnut looked like and what a mulberry was. Half a century later, I still vividly remember seeing my first Cardinal perched on a branch. I watched caterpillars become butterflies. I went to the library because I wanted to learn more about what I saw.

The director Steven Spielberg credits his mother as the source of his creativity. She would take him out into the desert where they lived in California and he was able to just let his imagination run wild. Ridgewood Reservoir can and obviously has provided the same inspiration for local kids.

This is why this area is UNIQUE and that is how it should be presented.