Thursday, July 2, 2015

There Was a Bridge

There was an old rusted bridge, once painted blue, 

that crossed a green river.

It was old but beloved, with character in its steel beams and wood floor.

How many people fished from its side, stopped to look through its metal girding to the stars, or stared down at the water, deep in thought?

But it was old. And old bridges are a liability for someone, I suppose.

So men came with yellow machines and big trucks to build a new, ugly concrete bridge downstream. No amount of protest could stop progress, after all.

Then one day the river swelled from much rain. The men with the machines, who did not know the river's nature, left their equipment on her shore, confident that it would be safe.

The river, however, was not so pleased with them, and gave the men quite a scare.

As she boiled around them the men made their way to the machine that was fast being swallowed by the angry river.

They managed, just in time, to retrieve their equipment and parked it further up the bank this time. The river tried to get to it, but the rains stopped and slowly she receded.

So the men with machines have won. 

The old bridge was scheduled to come down this past Monday. My relationship with the bridge developed only in the last four years, but this bridge has stood since 1908, 107 years. Many others have known it and traveled it: horses pulling wagons, people on foot or riding horseback, children on bikes, Model As and Model Ts. Men crossed on their way to work or to war, women to shopping and church. Loads of hay, trucks of cattle, musicians loaded with gear and writers armed with pencil and paper have all passed over the old bridge and many stopped a minute just to look, to listen to the quiet ripple of the water below or to check the rising flood. Kayakers, canoers and fisherman traveled below, seeking the calm of water and nature, wind and sky.

We went out to the bridge near midnight Saturday to say goodbye. 

The moon was drifting fitfully through the clouds, and rain still threatened. 

I listened to the others share memories of good times and years past; one told a story of climbing up into the top girders when he was younger. Why? He couldn't remember, but then sometimes when we're young we don't need a reason to do things. We just do them.

A few toasts, and it was time to go.

I suppose the old bridge is gone by now. I stood on the new bridge before I left last weekend and tried to get a sense of what it means, what it will change, and how it will serve in the place of its steel predecessor. Hard white concrete gives no hint, keeps its secrets. Perhaps over time it will be as beloved as the old metal bridge. But it's hard for me to envision that day ever coming.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

Hills Creek Falls

We were sitting on the porch at the camp Saturday and Dave said, "I bet Hills Creek Falls are roaring. Might go down and take some pictures."

"I'll go with you," I said. And off we went.

Hills Creek Falls are located near West Virginia's Cranberry Glades. They are a series of three waterfalls, dropping 220 feet down a narrow hollow. I'd been down about 10 years ago and well remembered the steep climb back up and how winded I was after making that climb. There are, I think, about 500 steps to the bottom, some of them in a wire cage-type of structure hanging over a cliff where you can see down below you, a challenge for folks like me with vertigo. But I remembered the beauty of the falls and have been wanting to go back even though I knew I would not be able to go all the way down to the lower falls.

It was worth the effort. The laurel was in bloom along the narrow path, and the lush green of hundreds of plant varieties created rich patterns of green, shade and light.

The recent wet weather made the steps and paths very slippery with moss and such.

The upper falls; not the best shot but as good as I got on this trip.

These are the middle falls, and as far as I was able to go, as the wire cage steps started just past here.

Dave was busy with his professional equipment, and the photos he showed me later were breath-taking.

I left him to it and started back up because I knew it was going to be a slow trip. I think I needed a slow-moving vehicle sign on my back! I was a little comforted by meeting other, younger people on the trail who also had to stop occasionally on the way back up.

Small falls graced the path all along the way, results of the recent heavy rains.

I was winded but happy when I returned to the van. I hope I can go back to the falls one day and actually make it all the way to the bottom, but for now, this was enough to keep me happy. I'd like to see these falls in winter, and in fall because they are sure to be gorgeous in any season.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Storytelling Road Trip: At Camp

Peace, friends, music and relaxation were the goal for the weekend and we met it in spades. These are photos from the cabin that belongs to a good friend, where we stayed:

 Green and peaceful, 

with quite a few four-legged visitors:

Larry named this guy Buddy--he came visiting regularly in search of the apples dropping from the trees around the cabin. Munch munch!

And then he was so scared of us he had to lie down. Right.

He had a shy female friend who tended to keep a little more distance between herself and us.

And there was an even shyer young buck who was probably trying not to get in the way of the bigger guy.

Those apples were attractive to this ol' groundhog too. He would come out, eat his fill, and then go stretch out on the roof of a low shed to sunbathe. Honestly!

I took this through the kitchen window--can you see the squirrel? He was also coming after the apples. I didn't know squirrels liked them.

We enjoyed watching all this activity. At home our dogs keep the wildlife away, which is their job so we can have a garden. But at this camp, we can share the space with them, and no one minds at all.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.
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