More eventful than usual

Carol and I went for a walk late this afternoon. It was a dreary gray day. We were on Pope’s Island heading across the bridge towards Fairhaven when we noticed a police car parked in the middle of the bridge. A police officer was standing in the sidewalk gesturing for us to cross to the sidewalk on the other side of the bridge; he was standing behind some of that yellow tape the police use to block off crime scenes.

As we stood there waiting for a break in the four lanes of traffic so we could cross to the other sidewalk, Carol told me that what she had read on the Web site of the New Bedford Standard-Times: that yesterday evening someone had seen someone walking along the bridge carrying a rope; that later police had found an empty noose tied to the railing of the bridge; that police divers were searching the water under the bridge.

As we passed the place where the police car was parked, another New Bedford police car pulled up. And a uniformed police officer sat on a dock over on our side of the bridge. “They must still have divers in the water,” said Carol.

When we got to Fairhaven, we turned down Middle Street. In the parking lot of the Fairhaven VFW, we saw four black-and-white Fairhaven police cars, one unmarked car with its blue lights flashing, a state police car, and several other cars. There were two tripods with video cameras standing on the sidewalk, and there was a man with a video camera on his shoulder further in the parking lot. There were perhaps thirty or forty bystanders spread out around the VFW parking lot: a couple standing on the porch of one of the apartments on the left, several people standing on the sidewalk in front, several more standing around the liquor store to the right of the VFW, and even more people standing on Bridge Street on the other side of the liquor store.

We had no idea what had happened, but it was pretty obvious that nothing was really going on any more. When we got back home, the Standard-Times Web site had a brief story: at 10:40 p.m. yesterday evening, police responded to a large fight somewhere around Bridge, Main, and Middle Streets (the Standard-Times reported that the fight took place at “the intersection of Middle and Main Streets,” but Middle and Main parallel each other). Three men received serious knife wounds; one of those died this morning after being flown to Beth Israel Hospital in Boston.

But we didn’t know all this until we returned home. We walked past the VFW and down to the harbor so I could look at some ducks. “They’re Buffleheads,” said Carol, while I was still trying to figure out what kind of ducks they were. “You’re right,” I said, “but I thought you didn’t like birding.” She smirked and said, “Yup, but I can see better than you.”

Then we walked home, past the people standing around the Fairhaven VFW, past the two police cars on the bridge to Pope’s Island, and then around the little park on the south side of Pope’s Island. “What’s that!” said Carol. A hawk flew clumsily away from us, keeping low to the ground. It reappeared on the other side of a big clump of rose bushes. Carol pointed to a big pile of feathers. “It caught a pigeon,” I said. “Let’s see if we can sneak up behind it and figure out what kind of hawk it is.”

We walked quietly around the clump of rose bushes, and there was the hawk sitting on the ground staring back at us: brown back, about the size of a crow, probably an immature Cooper’s Hawk. I thought it would immediately fly away when it saw us, but it didn’t. Then I saw the bright red in between its feet: it was clutching the carcass of the dead pigeon. No wonder the hawk had flown so clumsily away from us; no wonder it didn’t fly away while we were staring at it; it was holding on to its dinner. We watched the hawk for a minute or two, but it obviously wasn’t going to start eating again until we went away.

We walked on home. The sun came out as we walked across the swing span bridge onto Fish Island. We stopped to talk to someone we know; we waved to Russell at the Fish Island gas station. It was a more eventful walk than usual.