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Bridges to the Past


These days. I am thinking of bridges. The seeming majestic miracle of a bridge that carries us across waters or across years and years into the past. My Daddy helped build a bridge once upon a time back before I was born. Before the building of it my Grandaddy pulled a small ferry with his horse so cars could cross. And it was this bridge we crossed every weekend to get across Holmes Creek, pause in the middle, look down and judge the water height. See if it was falling or rising, and then go on across and hang a left and pull down that dirt road that led to the landing where you could bank fish for a dollar. Or launch a boat for two. All paid in the tin box on the honor system. The little house that somehow held the multitudes just to the side. A stall for Maude the plowhorse. A little barn that held feed where feral cats had kittens, dined well each night on mice. Were prolific in their mating so that kittens were a constant. As a kid me and cousins climbed the old bags of cement and read the words scrawled underneath the bridge with a rock. A swooning teenager a long time gone by. And you could sit up there underneath and once in a long while a car would pass, -always slowing down to check the creek, determine from a distance at a glance if the fish were biting. That slow echo like sound of thump, thump, thump. A pattern that if I could hear it now - man oh man. It would mean my Memaw’s laugh would filter down, carry on that sparkling water. And that by afternoon Uncle Eddie Lewis (I think he fought in WWII) would be two sheets to the wind and telling lies As he laughed and rolled on big stories My Uncle James would be standing in the sandy yard, smoking a cigarette and cracking wise right back. My Grandaddy with all his chores done for the day in his rocker, iced tea at hand, him saying, “Lordy, Lordy,” as he wiped tears from laughing till he cried. There was that smokey woodstove smell in the chilly October air from the fire that burned perpetual until Spring. And, I tell you there was nothing better ever than that bridge and what it carried us across and into. A shelteted place where time slowed down for living.

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