Monday, February 21, 2011


Guess who!
The other day I was driving the Box north on Rts. 11&15 from the Harvey Taylor Bridge at Harrisburg. Sometimes I like to cross the Susquehanna and go up the western side ("the other side") of the river instead of driving through the city to I-81 where it crosses Front Street.

Much of the river's edge on the Harrisburg side is invisible, due to the high bank. On the western side, it's much more natural -- no high banks and no concrete steps. You can see a lot more wild life and get a closer look at the water level and at the islands that dot the river.

I like to stop at a boat ramp in West Fairview. You turn slightly to the right at the antiques store on Second Street, which is the first building in town. You go to the first corner and turn right onto First Avenue, crossing Lutheran Street and going down a hill to Front Street. Turn right again and you come to the boat landing right where the Conodoguinet Creek empties into the river.

A moment for reflection.
There you can walk to the water's edge and survey the river with the city skyline on the horizon. On this day, the sun was in such a position that it was reflecting off the windows of some taller buildings, looking like it was coming from inside the buildings.

But the real action was taking place right in front of me. A flock of seagulls was sitting on the ice still remaining on the river. Some were flying from block to block. Others were nestled right up against the shore. As I was standing nearby and about to take a picture, an older man in a van, totally oblivious to my presence, pulled up right in front of me and parked. He circled around to the back of his van, opened the rear doors, and re-appeared with a large cardboard box.

The first round of bread starts flying though the air.
Then he began to yell towards the birds, "Come on, come on! Come on!," which is seagullese for "Come on, come on!" The birds just sort of looked at him and stayed put. He neared the river's edge, the water lapping at his feet, and began to throw rolls and bread into the water.

That got the birds's attention alright, and they began to fly around the target food, but only a few approached to eat. When the man had thrown out all he had, he retreated to his van and drove off. Now the birds were free to approach, and amid lots of squawking, flying, and dive-bombing, the birds feasted on the tasty treats.

The half dozen adults and two couples with babies enjoyed this little spectacle on a warm winter day.

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