At its origin, the three foot concrete mouth of the culvert feeds a small pond that is perhaps five feet wide at its broadest, before narrowing to a foot wide stream. The pond is shaded by the bank of the road, which is draped in vines, and a pair of landscaping trees from the neighboring property. In the pond is a large swarm of small fish. I have twice seen a turtle lounging at the bottom, and once saw a snake swim across, up into the culvert when it saw me.
The banks of the creek vary from three to ten feet and this sloping ribbon of land goes unmown by landscaping crews. It is lush with tall grass, wild flowers, cattail reeds and willow trees(bushes). After a rain, when the water has risen to a deluge, the foliage is bent and even flattened. Plastic bags clothe the willow trunks and trash is wedged in every nook. A few days later the plants have recovered and most of the junk is hidden from view.
Just before it disappears back under the earth, the trickle splits, forming a delta that is perhaps ten feet wide and twenty long. Cattail reeds dominate this little marsh. During the summer months, I saw birds galore hanging out, chasing each other and even scolding me for casting my eyes so intently toward their emerald isle. For a month or two the cacophony of crickets along the brook drowned out the roar of Central Expressway thirty yards to the West.
Until recently I thought these few yards of riparian landscape were pretty in a pathetic way. Two weeks ago a crew of Mexicans came in a white truck, cut down the willow trees and mowed the cattails. A pile of yellowing limbs sits next to a ragged ditch strewn with trash. Yuck.