Bridges

As a beach girl, I will admit that I have a fascination/fear relationship with water, especially storm water. In a related way, I have a love/hate relationship with bridges. Perhaps it is not so much hatred of bridges, as it is a fear, or wariness of them.

I don’t think there is anywhere one can travel without having to cross bridges of one sort or another, though I would be happy to simply travel on good old fashioned flat land. My love/hate relationship with bridges also extends to highway overpasses. I tend to look up briefly, before I drive under them. Call me neurotic, it’s been done before; call me “Chicken Little” though it’s not worry about the sky falling that makes me look up.

picture of a park next to the Cape Cod Canal, blue water, blue sky, with the Sagamore Bridge in the distance.
Herring Run Recreation Area Just above the Sagamore Bridge

I saw and loved bridges, before I ever learned to fear them, or more appropriately fear being on them. The three bridges that cross the Cape Cod Canal (more later) and the Old Stone Bridge that crosses the water between Point Independence and Onset were the backdrop of my every day life growing up. Those bridges spell home to my heart, in ways that are both profound and mysterious to me.

My first lesson in fear, came late one night, in the back seat of a 1954 Chevy Belair, where I was supposed to be sleeping. (This was decades before seat belts, car seats and other such safety measures). My mother was driving us to New York, or Baltimore, I am not sure and my brother was in the front passenger seat. He was about 12 (plus or minus) and I was 6 (plus or minus). We were crossing the George Washington Bridge. My brother raised a question I never wanted to think about, ‘What happens if the bridge collapses?” “Oh, Steve,” my mother said, “we’d be killed.”

Thanks! A lot!

Not all bridges inspired that kind of fear in me. When making the trip to Baltimore from Massachusetts, the approach to and crossing the Delaware Memorial Bridge was always a welcome sight. On the way to Baltimore, it meant we were getting closer to seeing family. On the way back from Baltimore, it meant our journey home was underway.

And then, there is “Dummy Bridge” in Onset that had a message all it’s own, although it was more like a song. It was an open grate bridge, that has since been replaced with normal road material. But I loved the sound the bridge made when the car passed over the grates, a humming, whirring sound that I assume was a combination of the speed of the car, the tires, the air through the grates. It was a short bridge, so it was a short song.

Residents of Towanda, Pennsylvania may, on any given day, cross two different bridges to cross the Susquehanna River, a winding river to be sure. The Route 6 Bridge, that joins Towanda with the “Golden Mile” of Wysox is heavily traveled. It is not unusual to be stuck on the bridge, waiting for the traffic light to change. We haven’t lived in Towanda for many years; but, I always found the vibrations caused by the traffic moving in the opposite direction slightly unnerving.

The Bridge that cemented my experience of fear (I could say no pun intended, but that would be a lie, all of my puns are intended) was the (almost) 24 mile bridge that crosses Lake Pontchartrain in Louisana, from New Orleans, to the other side of the lake. Here is an official link of information. https://www.thecauseway.us/ I was traveling with a friend’s two sisters, we were going to a retreat on prayer. Perhaps the real retreat happened on the bridge.

The driver missed her turn to the retreat center, or we would not have even ended up in New Orleans, let alone had to take that bridge. But we did. And it was dark, and my friend’s sister who was not driving, was hysterical. “What if a barge has knocked into a section of the bridge and we end up in the lake?” “We’re going to die!” Not once, but over and over through all twenty four miles.

I admit, she had me convinced or at least unnerved. In truth, I wasn’t sure if I should cover my eyes, or my ears. I shut my eyes, could not have seen anything happen anyway, and prayed. For all twenty four miles. Before you ask, this was decades, decades before people knew about a thing called a G.P.S.

So with this history of fear of bridges, or at least a disdain of them, imagine my surprise in 2018, when I caught my first glimpse of the Sagamore Bridge, that crosses the Cape Cod Canal near the mouth of the canal that opens out to the Bay. My heart seemingly leapt to my throat, I was pretty sure that is what that lump in my throat was; salt water spilled from my eyes.

Everything in me wanted to stop, and I could not. There was traffic behind me, there was no place to pull over, it was raining, my poor confused husband was sitting in the passenger seat, no doubt thinking, “What the____?” I could not speak. Because it seemed as though the bridge was speaking, and it said one word. “Home.”

Even writing this, the salt water brims in my eyes.

Picture of a black marble sign for the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, next to the Canal, with the railroad bridge in the distance.
You can see part of the Rail Road Bridge in the background.

I had much the same reaction, a few miles down the road, when I passed it’s twin, The Bourne Bridge and still had to keep pressing on. I drove on past the amazing railroad bridge, a very special elevated train bridge that crosses the canal.

I passed the new to me, entrance to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. We were heading to Onset, with little time to spare, and then on to Middleboro to check into our hotel.

I am not alone in my love of the Canal and it’s bridges. One of the many things I have come to appreciate about my classmates as I get to know them in a whole new way, is that many of them also bear a deep appreciation and fondness for home and the many riches of life near or on the Cape, including the sights and sounds of home.

Picture of the Bourne Bridge that crosses the Canal, rocks that line the canal and 4 birds in the water.
The Bourne Bridge, photo by and courtesy of Scott Stevenin, posted in the Bourne Photography Group

One friend introduced me to a Facebook page titled, “Bourne Photography” where many local photographers post amazing and sometimes daring photos of the canal, the boats that pass through it, the bridges, at all times of day, colorful, gorgeous pictures. There are other pictures as well, and not just bridges, so if you are on Facebook, give it a “look see.”

Much to my regret, there was not enough time to return to the canal that trip, and it was rainy much of that day and the next. I had to hope that I could come back sometime. When I was able to return home to Onset in 2019, for a much longer visit, I went to the Canal every chance I got. Once again, it was as if the bridges could talk, this time it was The Bourne Bridge. And what did it seem to say? “We are a part of you too!” Ah, sentiment!

You probably could not tell, but I cannot wait to go back and am hoping, maybe against hope, that I will still be able to go this year. If not, I certainly hope for one more trip, at least. I do not know how much longer I will be able to make the trip, afford the trip, or feel physically up to the journey. But I feel a little like a homing pigeon at this point, or some creature with a homing beacon planted firmly in its breast.

What happens when the time comes that I am not longer able to make the trip? I hope I will have enough pictures and stored memories to last my lifetime, but I do not know how I will feel. I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

Not holding back the tide,

Michele

Copyright 2020 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com

A crisp fall day on the Onset Pier

Published by msomerville2014

About: Michele Somerville is a wife, mother, stepmother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. She lives with her husband and their dog Sheba. Sheba is their fourth rescue dog in 30 years. She is a retired ordained United Methodist Elder and serves two churches part-time in North Central Pennsylvania. She obtained her Bachelors’ Degree in 1999 from Mansfield University and her Master of Divinity in 2004 and Doctor of Ministry in 2016, both from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York. My Doctor of Ministry Thesis was:” Prophetic Words of Grace: Biblical Storytelling in the Local Church.” Michele began writing and performing character monologues for worship in 2008. She began by asking the question about nameless characters in the Bible, “What would they say if they could speak for themselves?” and then using her theological education and experience of the human condition to attempt an answer that is both academic and creative. Much of what you will read here are memories from growing up in a tourist town, in a bar, in the 1960’s, shaggy dog stories about our rescue dogs, life in a small town, and stories of faith and hope. Throughout her life she has lived in many states, including small towns, large towns and cities. She lived in Rota, Spain, for nine challenging months. Despite all the places she have lived since moving away from home in 1970,Michele is at the heart of all things Jack and Maggie’s daughter, and a beach girl from Onset, Massachusetts.

13 thoughts on “Bridges

  1. I loved seeing the photos of the bike path near the Bourne Bridge. I have run that entire path already when I was training for a marathon, from the train bridge that goes up and down to the Sagamore Bridge and back. I guess I won’t get there this summer, which makes me nostalgic.

    When we were kids, my sister used to hate going over bridges. She would try to hold her breath when we went over a bridge. I guess that helped her calm her fear.

    I tend to get a little teary-eyed when I have been away from home for a long time too. What a touching description of your homecoming, Michele. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Laurie, gosh, it would be cool if we could meet up, up there! I did not realize that there is a park and a tourist train that rides the bridge and along the canal down to Sandwich and back. I am hoping that if I can go in October, it will be running. They according to the web site they have a regular tour trip for about $34 and a dinner train for $89. I don’t need to ride the dinner train, but would love to do that. Also hoping to get to the Canal Visitor Center. I want to write more about both the Canal and the Bridges, but want to do more research. I remember taking my dad to the train in Buzzards Bay for his last trip to sea. My mom wasn’t feeling well. He sailed out of Hoboken, NJ. Sometimes he flew from Boston, sometimes took the train from Buzzards Bay or Providence or the bus. As always thank you for taking t he time to read and comment, it is much appreciated. Blessings, Michele

      Like

  2. Lovely photos and an interesting love/hate bridge relationship. Where I live we have very few bridges – small ones here and there, but nothing spectacular. It’s the little rickety ones that worry me – not those big reinforced steel ones.
    #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you Leanne, though you know, fear is not rationale 🙂 I was fortunate to get one of the photographers give me permission to use his picture of the Bourne Bridge. “Home” is 425 miles from where I live. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. #MLSTL Michele

      Like

  3. Hi Michelle, I could relate to this very much. I was afraid of bridges as a child. We had to go over a rickety old bridge to get to my grandparents house and I hated it. I would close my eyes. I had a panic attack on the long bridge that heads out of Miami to Key West. I also remember going to Rhode Island to a friends and one of the things she had planned for us was to go over all of the cool bridges in the area. I was not my idea of fun! I also traveled over the Mississippi bridge from Wisconsin into Iowa everyday for 20 years. I learned to accept it, but never liked it. I hope you get to honor your homing instincts and travel back to the Bourne bridge in the near future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you Michele, I have reservations made and paid for, hoping COVID does not interfere or the Governors’ ideas about what states are allowed in their borders. Right now everything is open from PA to MA, but my trip is a few months away. Who would have thought in March, that we would be dealing with things like that in August, with football seasons cancelled and schools on hybrid schedules and so much up in the air. I would not be a fan of rickety bridges either and you would not get me out on a rope bridge. On the other hand, I have to admit, I am not sure the Carosel is tame enough for me. When I was born, pretty sure I heard the call of the mild and not the call of the wild. Yet, I married a Pennsylvania hunter! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on t his post. Blessings, Michele

      Like

  4. Hi Michele, I’ve never thought about fear when crossing a bridge but I can understand how you feel. I was fortunate to grow up with the mighty Sydney Harbour Bridge – the site of many spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks shows. Being originally from Sydney I love the harbour which is stunning. I lived in Brisbane, Queensland for 30 years and there are several bridges that I still run over along the Brisbane river each week. The Story Bridge is the oldest and most iconic but there is also the Goodwill Bridge, the Kurilpa Bridge and the William Jolley Bridge and the Go-Between Bridge all scattered along the river. Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL and have a lovely day. x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That is a lot of bridges to be sure. I am not much of a traveler, I feel privileged to get glimpses of Australia and New Zealand through the eyes of the blogging community through #MLSTL especially. Thank you for taking t he time to read and comment on this post, always appreciated and anything that helps make connections for people with their own stories is a good story plus, no? Blessings, Michele

    Like

  6. Michele, I have a fascination for bridges and I live with a husband who will drive 50 miles out of our way to avoid them. It is an interesting dynamic. You’ve inspired me to write about our ‘first’ bridge experience one of these days. It was almost a deal-breaker in the relationship department. Happily, at least one bridge evokes feelings of homecoming and not fear for you. I hope you will get to return home soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Suzzane, thank you for your comment and for taking the time to read this story. I hope you do write your bridge story, I will look forward to reading it. I have hopes for mid fall, and it will be partly a writing vacation, but that is good. Blessings, Michele

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Isn’t it funny how we all have irrational fears? Mine are heights, edges, and I really don’t like swinging bridges, but yet I’ve pushed my way through these fears and hiked in the Himalayas in Nepal and climbed mountain paths that have had me on the edge of my nerves. Your bridges are lovely and I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the subject. #mlstl

    Liked by 1 person

  8. First of all, WOW! Himalayas in Nepal. Unfortunately I am not much of a traveler. Thank you though for taking the time to read and comment on this post. Truthfully, it is another opportunity to show of the Canal and home.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: