Thursday, October 23, 2008

Keeper of the Bridge

October 22, 2008

Thanks to my daughter Sara's navigational and Internet skills, we set off from her house on Wednesday morning for a tour of the covered bridges of Maine. It was with a heavy heart that we bid goodbye to her, Travis and Cash ~ but Christmas is coming soon, and they will be joining us here in Nevada for the holidays.

With assistance from the GPS that Bob had thoughtfully got for me before the trip, we plugged in the names of the towns that Sara had recommended and started the amazing trip down the back country roads of Maine. Covered bridges are sure to be on most peoples minds when they think of the quintessential New England photo, and we were no exception. All three of us traveling together are avid photographers, granted some better than others, but we all enjoy the experience of the hunt for the perfect photo that will capture that moment in time. Many times it takes me back to a creative writing class that I had at Coral Park High School in Miami. Each week we were assigned an exercise out of "Pictures in Writing" by David Sohn, yes......I still have the book and actually use it occasionally when I hit a block.....but back to the covered bridges.........

We arrived in Andover, site of the "Most Photographed" covered bridge in America, mid-morning and stopped at little country store to find directions. The GPS coordinates only taking us so far. We were told to "head on down the road a piece, about 3 miles or so, you will see it on the right" and off we went. Ten miles later, and a couple of u-turns, and photo stops, we realized we had gone to far. Turned around again, and stopped at a small house that advertised fresh Maine Maple syrup, but no one was home. Next door though, a women came out and gave us some good directions to find the bridge. Back on down the road we went, not really minding the long way as the colors of the trees, and the sites all around us were so amazing, and there was the sign, COVERED BRIDGE, oh! that sign! Seems we must have been looking at one of those beautiful trees when we went by the first, second and third time. Took a right and headed down a short way and there was the bridge. First of three that we would find on this trip. It was magnificent, and one of the few left that you can actually drive over. We drove through and then parked on the other side, a wooded area that was a likely place for summer swimmers and sunbathers as the sandy beach looked inviting even on the coolness of this day. We spent the better part of the next half hour taking photos from every angle, climbing up and looking out the small windows, envisioning what it must have been like for early settlers in the cold cold winters of Maine, crossing to get to the small town many miles down the road for supplies.

We were setting our camera up to do a time-delayed photo so that all of us could be in the shot, something that we actually mastered by the end of the trip, when a car was approaching to cross the bridge. We looked off to the east and a women was approaching on her bike and she put her hand out for the car to stop, the action saying to us with a smile "Wouldn't want to spoil your picture now". Kathy had a few more shots to take, and we noticed that the women was coming back over the bridge, a few pieces of torn cardboard in her hands. We started up a conversation...........

She had lived down the road for 54 years, and twice a day she made the pilgrimage to the bridge to pick up trash and make sure that is was in good order.... "Saved her one time from a fire ya know, the son and me" she tells us of the time that they thankfully were passing over and saw a smoldering timber, caused by juveniles she feels, burning their tires to leave a mark in this place of history. "The last time I cross it, they will be taking me to my grave" she tells us. I think that she is happy with this thought, her and bridge connected in many ways. She is a weathered women, and time has taken its toil as she struggles to climb back on her bike. We head back to the car, and wave as we leave. I don't think these bridges will just be a "Photo op" anymore. The history of each and every one will play out for us now.

Over the course of our travels we find two more bridges. Both spectacular in their own way. The oldest was found after traveling down a rutted dirt road for over 5 miles. It - to us - was the most spectacular and we picnicked on the shoreline of it's shade. Even though, the first bridge, Andover...... will be the one that stays in my memory the longest. The Keeper of The Bridge, the reason.

1 comment:

melinda clifton said...

Susan, the pictures of your trip are glorious. More beautiful still the stories behind them. This one is my favorite, love it! Thanks so much for taking the time to share. melinda


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