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My Turn: 'Swan lake' lives in Valley Stream

We walk down the hill of our condo development in Valley Stream, just me and my dog Jami. We are both retirees — I worked for a counseling center, and Jami, a black Lab, worked as pet therapy dog.

We cross Rosedale Road, looking both ways for traffic, as we are but a stone’s throw from the New York City line. But at this time of our lives, with a stay-at-home order in effect to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the new normal means there are only a few cars traveling on the street.

We stroll along the sidewalk that is next to a fenced-in storm basin. At first glance, the basin appears to be a lovely body of water where geese, ducks and a pair of swans make their home.

If you look closely, like I do every day, you can see all manner of debris inside the fenced area: plastic bottles, straws and cups, and empty snack bags, just to name a few of the items that proliferate on the shores of the basin. There is the same sort of trash near the sidewalk — empty fast-food bags and boxes, more plastic bottles.

I’m told the trash in the basin and on its shores flows in from Jamaica Bay. People say it has something to do with New York City controlling the drainage.

About two years ago, a group of volunteers were hard at work cleaning up the place. It’s Nassau County property, so someone must have gotten permission from the powers that be. It looked real nice for a couple of months, then the tide brought the garbage back.

I like to keep an eye out for the pair of swans, and in early April my vigilance was rewarded. The twosome were sloshing on the shoreline, gathering twigs, branches and mud along with bags and bottles, too. They were piling it all together in one ever-increasing mound, apparently making a nest.

When we visited again, while my girl Jami sniffed the grassy land to her heart’s content, I noticed the nest was really taking shape. The swans were sitting on their little hill, their necks entwined. Perhaps they were admiring their new home.

To me, it’s a miracle that these lovely creatures, their white necks sullied brown in spots, were unconcernedly making a place amid the debris to welcome their family.

I hope and pray there are people, near and far, who — despite the challenges man and nature have made for them — are building safe homes for their families, rising above dangers presented to them by our challenging new world.

Alice Laby,

Valley Stream

YOUR STORY Letters and essays for My Turn are original works by readers that have never appeared in print or online. Share special memories, traditions, friendships, life-changing decisions, observations of life or unforgettable moments for possible publication. Email act2@newsday.com, including name, address, phone numbers and photos if available. Edited stories may be republished in any format.

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