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Newer bridges

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old bridge

The old bridge! With a flooded creek.

My regular running route takes me under a bridge. It’s a railroad truss bridge over a creek. There’s a paved trail that passes next to the creek and curves under the bridge. The bridge looks like a large, rusty erector set. I’ve run under the bridge more than 1000 times. I’ve walked across it close to 100 times. Stepping gingerly on each railroad tie to avoid getting my foot stuck between the ties.

The bridge was replaced this a couple of weeks ago. A newer, less structurally interesting steel beam bridge is there now.

I was surprised how this change affected me. I’ve written about the old bridge before. Now it’s gone. I’m sad. I miss it.

The bridge was a permanent fixture in my life.

My Friday morning run is filled with transitions. The bridge is part of it. My run starts on 4-lane city avenue with plenty of apartment buildings. I turn down a tree-lined street towards the trail. I pass a pond, a park site, and swimming pool. Then I enter the first stretch of trail which is a tunnel to another world – narrow, dark and green. After that stretch of trees, the human world still visible behind me, I cross some railroad tracks. The tracks provide a clearing. Then I enter the deep wood where it’s dark and dense. Turning left onto the paved trail I follow the creek to where I see the old bridge. The old bridge was a tall structure rising up over the land. It was taller than it was long. A majestic human structure in the mess of the woods. The trail curves directly under the bridge and you rise from under it facing East. You emerge into the light of the sun.

They’ve been planning to replace the old bridge all spring. They filled the creek with large boulders and steel tubes. They built a temporary bridge so that the cranes could move in to remove the old bridge. But they had to postpone the removal multiple times due to spring rains. Finally they set a date and it stuck. First week of June.

new bridge

The new bridge. So boring…

My son and I went to see the bridge get replaced this past week. It was an amazing effort that started at 6 a.m. and was still going at 8 p.m. I wish I had seen all the work involved. I especially wanted to see them lift the old bridge. I was only able to see them starting when I ran past the mess it in the morning. And then I saw the (mostly) finished product when I came back with my son.

I embrace change. “Out with the old!” And I don’t traffic much in nostalgia. But I’m starting to realize how the features of the landscape offer a groundedness to rely on.

When I run through the woods I’m always excited to see what’s changed since my last run. There’s new tree and plant growth. Baby animals. Spring floods. Snow. But I also expect the basic structure of the woods to be there. Trees, trails, creeks, and even the human-made pieces. Like the bridge. Always.

Goodbye, old friend.

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