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Day 306 - Covered Bridges

I love them. I love how they look, much like a small house that one can pass through on your way to somewhere else. They are quaint and inviting. Imagine my surprise yesterday when I was in Nowheresville, Oregon and I see this small sign on the roadside that says “Historic Covered Bridge 1/4 mile.” I slowed down and made the turn. Truth be told I would have driven 20 miles to see it. But to my great good fortune, I just happened upon it and it was just two turns away from me.

It sat nestled in a small grove of trees, spanning a small river. It was painted white of course which only added to its quaintness.

I parked and got out and walked across it in both directions. Wishing that I could live next to a treasure like this. I marveled at its construction and what good shape it was in. The smell of old timber and fresh water intoxicating.

It was built in 1933 in Douglas County, Oregon by Floyd Frear. It carries Rochester Road over Calapooya Creek about 3 miles west of Sutherlin. I didn’t know that Oregon has 54 covered bridges! I now know where I am going on my next road trip.

Perhaps you are asking the same question I have always asked when seeing a covered bridge...why bother to cover them? So much extra work for a structure that is precariously placed over a body of water that will always rise and swell. Seems counter intuitive really. Some say it was to make the crossing easier for horses, they would be more calm crossing a bridge that was covered rather than bare. But that was really a side benefit and not the reason. Also, anyone who has ever spent any time with horses will know that whether or not they will cross a bridge has everything to do with the personality of the horse and nothing to do with the bridge being covered or not. Many horses would be just as spooked by the covering as would not.

The real reason they went to the added expense was to protect the wood from the elements. If the wood was covered from exposure, it would last longer. The architectural and aesthetic charm a bonus.

Whatever the reason, I am just glad that they made them. I am super happy that I got to spend some time there yesterday. I am so grateful to have just happened upon it and been willing to alter course to take it all in.

As I walked back and forth across it and admired its view, I thought about how much I had in common with this bridge. I sit precariously over my life. Watching all the things that the stream of life brings my way. I watch the waters of my life rise and recede. I realize that my life is precariously balanced with and dependent on the natural world. I too have dressed up the outsides in order to protect the interior structures. I too have been constructed a top a shifting, moveable force that can and will undo me in the end. One good rainy season and I might be gone forever. I too bridge the distance between two distinct shores, mine and yours.

I am a little off the beaten path and require more and more maintenance the older I get. I have been set down in an out of the way place that requires some willingness on the part of the explorer to find. But I also believe that I am worth the effort the discovery requires. I have made a comfortable life there, hovering over my particular stream of life. Bridging the gap from shore to shore. Never really having much control who crosses my path and whether or not they will find me an annoyance or treasure to behold. I am just there, a nicely painted structure atop a stream that will someday be my undoing. Hey, but aren’t we all bridges over our own troubled waters? To be honest, I am just grateful, like the Rochester Bridge, to be holding up so well after all these years. Still holding my own, with a certain level of attractiveness that I can still entice a few brave souls to leave the intended path to take a moment to admire my view.

And I am most assuredly grateful for there being things liked covered bridges in this world. I am immensely honored that I got to spend some time there yesterday relating to a covered bridge in a hollow over a stream.

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