Saturday, August 20, 2011

The mind wanders

A gentle brook gurgled and lolled through a tree lined bank filled with overgrowth, under us and around us as we sat in the former west and eastbound lanes of the abandoned Indian Timothy Memorial Bridge west of Clarkston, Washington. Cement barricades were set to remind everyone that this structure wasn’t safe for driving anymore. Weddings, though, were okay. Humming birds drank up the last of summer’s nectar in the low trees and watched the ceremony below, hovering like helicopters and then darting away. A single dragon fly traversed the span between arches in anything but a hurry. It loitered there, taking its time as altitude was gained and soon he was out of sight over a tree. Candles lined each side under the arches. Small spiders inspected the flame enclosed in hand-broken glass and scurried in and around the beds of rose petals.

It was a beautiful evening. The site was secluded, intimate, special, and everything was perfect. The bride was exquisite and radiant, the groom youthful and eager.

The mind wanders, though, when the wedding vows are uttered, and when the preacher rattles on about rings. I looked around at the back of strangers’ heads, and looked at the bride and groom, and then looked back at the heads. My attention turned to the sound of the lazy water under foot. The mind wanders. The old bridge made for an excellent metaphor of bringing two lives together across two separate lifetimes. The fact that it was old was peculiar in a way. For most of a century the structure funneled travelers to and fro on Highway 12 as they journeyed home or embarked on new adventures. It has since been sidelined, as it were, out of the way of a newer, wider highway not 50 yards away. A landmark now, but unimportant. Inconsequential. The mind wanders. The peaceful roiling of water under the old bridge meandered the thicket and hidden banks and off towards a glorious steel tube under the “new” road. Into a darkened culvert. The stream now forced to shed its natural charm and accept modern practicality in return. Poetic in a way. Do not all beautiful marriages, over time, yield to the hand of practicality?
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