Tall order for trimming as city delays on Camp Creek ditch
Standing below 31st Street's Westmoor Drive bridge in the slanting light of late afternoon, Paul Bunyan looked worried.
“Babe and I've seen some thick forests in my time, but this might be the worst,” he said, gazing with a furrowed brow up Camp Creek ditch, its concrete-slab sides nearly obliterated by the tangle of unchecked, sky-seeking vegetation. The giant lumberjack rubbed his fingertips nervously across the shiny-sharp blade of an ax whose wood handle was thicker than a lodgepole pine.
Beside him, a blue ox the size of an elephant stamped its front foot, glancing anxiously in the same direction.
“Do you think you could bend down a little bit?” a local yellow journalist shouted up at Bunyan. “My neck's starting to hurt.”
“The scary part is, these forests that shoot up in just a year, what secrets do they hold?” the legendary woodsman said reflectively, either ignoring or not hearing the whiny appeal from below while he stood on tiptoes, still unable to see over the wild growth. “And these things on wheels that keep zooming by - you call them cars? - how many of them might be swallowed up inside there?”
It was a serene afternoon on the Westside. Bunyan had been called in as a voluntary consultant by certain Pleasant Valley residents, who were concerned that a future City Streets crew might face untold dangers as a result of delaying its annual ditch-trimming operation from the usual August time frame to October.
Complicating matters were calls from open-space advocates to have the ditch declared a National Forest and thus protected under federal laws. These in turn were contested by off-road enthusiasts, who wanted to turn it into an extreme route for three-wheelers.
But Paul Bunyan cared little for political matters. Fighting off a shudder, he took a deep breath, then narrowed his eyes and turned to the ox: “I think it's time, old friend.”
And with that, the famous duo plunged into the thicket. The reporter bravely followed them for three and a half feet, just as they were swallowed up by a swath of accidental elms that seemed to close in behind them. For a time, he caught glimpses of Paul's mighty ax, flailing in the fading rays of sunlight, accompanied by thunderous stamping from his bovine pal and ear-splitting roars from them both. But these sights and sounds steadily became less frequent, then died out altogether.
Finally, as darkness fell, quiet reigned once more - except for a yellow journalist's panicky shrieks as he clambered vainly up the ditch's concrete sides - within Camp Creek National Forest.
Westside Pioneer article