Saturday afternoon, I dropped 13yo off at gymnastics. It’s Rosh Hashanah, and if I were at all into traditions, I’d have joined a synagogue and I’d be attending services.
But, with the youngest of kids in middle school now, I have a lot of free time on Saturdays if there aren’t kid activities, and I really believe I’m more connected to nature and the universe and the Maker when I’m actually out in nature, so I snuck in a round of solo disc golf at Fort Washington State Park. I lost four discs but the course was gorgeous, and as of this writing already three of my discs have been recovered.
Disc golf is the least important part of any story, but really the least important part here.
I stuck around the park while a black couple were working on recovering their drone stuck high up in a tree. I don’t believe there were attempted shenanigans by a park ranger, but it made me uncomfortable that he rolled up, didn’t help but didn’t just leave. I walked up after he had pulled away and asked if I could help them. They’d been hand throwing (really really well, tbh) fishing line and weights probably 70ft vertical and hitting the branch the drone was stuck in. Then I tried lobbing discs at it, and while I was unsuccessful at hitting the branch with the drone, I was really successful at chucking a burnt orange disc thick into thorny vines that were very pokey.
Back to the the buried lede, though. I asked the couple if they minded if I hung around until they finished up and both, extremely enthusiastically, were like “yes please” and so I hung out.
The ranger made the couple aware that drones aren’t allowed in state parks. I see a lot of drones, admittedly almost never in a state park, so I didn’t know that either. When the ranger drove by, he saw the couple working on the tree, and he took pains to explain how had he seen them flying the drone he’d have confiscated it.
I don’t know if they asked him for help, but when he eventually drove off without helping them, the couple understood not only was he not going to help but they couldn’t count on calling someone to help them either. That’s how systemic racism shows its teeth. Nothing appears inappropriate about the situation between the park ranger and the couple… because for white people, you can scope an encounter probably to just the encounter. But everything is inappropriate about the relationship between the State and Black & Brown people.
When I ask for help, and the help is denied or unavailable, I don’t go looking in the same directions for aid again. I know better than to count on help from where it absolutely is not coming.
So, hearing what happened, I offered to stay. Rather than fret about what might happen to them, I just asked if that’d be cool with them, and it was.
When the couple got the drone out after getting enough of the 15lb fishing line around the branch to shake it without snapping the line, we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. I felt a lot better about hanging around just to, you know, kinda make sure everything was cool.
Pretty sure it was the best use of any Rosh Hashanah I’ve been part of.