A man fishes with a family of (invasive) mute swans in the background.
By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
It was hot on Saturday, June 6. Really, really hot. And I had to hike around the Blue Heron Trail at Cutler Park before the rain came. Did watching throngs of people in my chosen profession get tear gassed, shot with rubber bullets and assaulted by police and protester alike the night before stop me from whining about having to walk around a pond on a hot day?
No, it did not. Not even a little.
The only thing that stopped my whining was seeing how nice the trail was. Just off Kendrick Street, the trail around Kendrick Pond had a ton of people on it that had clearly walked from nearby office buildings. Outside of them, people with dogs was the other major group of hikers, followed by people with kids.
As I headed out, it was clear many people weren’t completing the loop. A lot of families made it to a nice bench overlooking Kendrick Pond, sat for a while, and turned back around towards the parking lot. The parking lot was also weirdly full of people that were sitting in idle cars, reading the newspaper, smoking cigarettes or making phone calls.
Speaking of phones, there are a few places on the Blue Heron Trail where old telephone poles still stand, with no live wires attached to them. It would be nice if there was some kind of plaque or something telling you what used to be there, or why the town didn’t get rid of the poles completely. This issue is most apparent in a brick building on the other side of the pond.
There’s a vine-covered brick building just off the path of the Healthy Trail with two shafts of some kind inside. The lifelong gamer in me wanted to go in and turn them to see if anything would happen, but the ground had a hole in it you could easily fall through. I opted to play it safe and not go inside, but I’d like to think if you turned the wrong shaft, another hole in the floor would open and you’d fall through.
There were also some mountain bike jumps on the far side of the pond. At one point, I walked past a dad encouraging his son to go off one of the larger ones. I lingered for a bit, figuring I would take the picture if the kid did it, but I didn’t want to tell them who I was. Adding the presence of the newspaper would have led the dad to pressure the kid even more. What if he hurt himself trying it? I’d feel responsible. What if the picture came out blurry? He’d have risked maiming himself, only for me to replace him with a picture of a butterfly, or a lake.
Many couples, from teens to seniors, were using the trail. One couple was in wheelchairs, one motorized one not, and held hands as they wheeled down the gravel trail. It was touching.
A group of friends were taking a break from the trail on a set of benches overlooking the pond. They were fine with me taking a photograph, so I asked them to pose in front of what looked like a church steeple in the distance.
A little bit further, a man was fishing in front of some mute swans. It was a great image, which apparently belied a serious issue: mute swans are an invasive species brought to America to make parks look more prestigious, and they destroy whatever water they go into. There are a high number of these swans in Kendrick Pond, but it would be tough to convince a person to sign up for a swan culling.
It was hot on Saturday, but there are far worse assignments in journalism than taking a casual stroll around Kendrick Pond and seeing what you find. And there are far worse places to have to walk around than a flat, interesting pond with plenty of nice views.