#824: Lapse

August 2nd, 2017

There’s no such thing as silence in a city.

Oh, I’m sure there are empty rooms, abandoned corridors, deep dank tunnels where all you can here is the drip drip drip of a long-forgotten pipe.

But in general, the lapping of the water and screaming of sanctuary birds is the best chance we have.

I went to Montrose Beach to scope out the fisherfolk. I was planning — still am — an early morning chatting about why men and women plod each day to the concrete pier that shoots off like a question mark to sit with rod and reel waiting for fish. Do they catch anything? Do they want to?

But as my nights are better than my mornings, I took a pedal to find the fastest bike route as the cicadas chirruped and the sun lazed down to the west. An evening bike ride under the guise of a recon expedition.

There were fisherfolk there, the ones I came to talk to. Lone men with jerry-rigged kits and water pail rod-holders so they could sit back and let the bucket do their fishing for them. Middle-aged couples sitting in silence, the rods an excuse for moments on a question-mark pier. Families laughing, fishing and shucking corn to toss on tiny charcoal grills they brought along.

Almost all Hispanic. Almost all silent against the lapping waves and shrieking birds.

Off the pier, past the bird sanctuary, beach and sand volleyball tournament, I found a spot along a concrete wall, hopped off my bike and turned to look at the water to see what so hypnotized the fisherfolk.

20 minutes later, I was still there.

The sky behind me was turning blood orange with crests and peaks of bright white gold peaking around clouds. To my fore, water. Endless water. Lapping, sinking, crying water beating pulse against the concrete shore.

A city to my south. Manicured suburbs to my north. A few scattered sailboats as punctuation ahead.

And always over all the sound. Slish slosh water. Crying lake birds. A momentary break from ceaseless city sounds of humans.

The slosh on concrete doesn’t make the same as it does on beach. The birds might have called more 200, 300, 10,000 ago. But for a moment, a fool like me could imagine he was the only one in Chicago, that all these sounds and drips and birdshriek caws were only for him.

I will go back and talk to the fisherfolk, ask them why they lay line for fish that will never come. For now, I’m happy enough knowing why I chose an orange sky, splishing water and the call of seabirds looking for home.

Learning “piggy” on Montrose Beach

A fire jam along the water

A lakefront mermaid smuggled by a steel worker

The drum circle at 63rd

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