Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Water Signs

A short bike ride takes me to Valentino pier in Red Hook, the western edge of Brooklyn. From there I can look across Buttermilk Channel into the belly of New York harbor and, on the hazy opposite shore, New Jersey. The coast of Jersey is littered with port cranes, the four legged monsters George Lucas imagined into AT-AT walkers.

Today there were a dozen container ships paused in port waiting to relieve their cargo.  They're off in the distance in my photo, island shaped blips on the horizon. They don't really look like boats in the photo—or in real life. More like boxes, inside of which are more boxes, the metal shipping containers that carry ninety percent of ocean trade today, including our food imports. The boats will sit silent and still for hours or days. At some unseen signal one will start to edge toward shore.

Like San Francisco who forfeited her port traffic to Oakland, New York City's boats have also left for the opposite harbor. Brooklyn and Manhattan's piers are now being converted to parks. Last year I remember the water a lot emptier, far fewer boats waiting for port. Maybe it's a sign the economy is looking up?

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