Wednesday, August 26, 2009

#18 - The Bridges of Madison County, Part 2

When the cloud of dust off the winding gravel road finally started to settle, I stared straight ahead through my dirty windshield and witnessed an amazing sight: two young lovers sharing an innocent kiss safe within the shelter of the Hogback Covered Bridge. Were they stealing a scene from the film? Perhaps, although this particular site wasn't featured in The Bridges of Madison County and besides that really didn't matter now because I just missed The Defining Moment of my photo essay! By the time I scrambled from my truck and lifted my camera, the image was gone, the couple was leaving, and all I could do was capture their final brief conversation.

Strolling inside the deserted bridge I marveled at the craftsmanship and detail of its woodwork, and paused to imagine all the effort and time that went into its construction. Back outside, I tried to picture the Hogback during the different seasons and I wondered how many citizens casually crossed it back when this bridge was still a part of a viable route.

But all of my positive energy and thoughts quickly vanished when the vision of the missed "perfect shot" reappeared in my mind. Maybe I'll get a second chance? There's still one covered bridge left to shoot and it's less than 10 miles of bad road away.

Rumbling past the barns, the clotheslines, the hogs, and the silos, I began to feel somewhat strange and the damp, rich, thick air only served to remind me of all these things once more. Just as the heat and the light became practically overpowering, I reached my destination, the Holliwell Covered Bridge.

The Holliwell, at 122 feet, is Madison County's longest remaining covered bridge and was featured in the book and movie. Not a soul was in sight as I passed through it, once again admiring its blend of form and function but while still dwelling on the Hogback photo op I botched earlier. Seeking some relief from the weather and a different perspective to work from, I hiked downstream and that's when it happened: after sliding down a steep muddy bank and nearly plunging into the Middle River just to get my picture, all the sights, smells, and sounds coalesced and I realized it wasn't moments I was missing, it was Iowa! The same state I lived in and loathed over a quarter century ago, I suddenly longed for today. Maybe it's the people, the places, or simply the times I took for granted, regret, and salute right now. Knowing how Robert Kincaid must feel helps me to understand that bridges can lead to rediscovery and time can lead to reconcilliation.

The old dreams
were good dreams,
They didn't work out but,
I'm glad I had them. - Clint Eastwood as Robert Kincaid in The Bridges of Madison County
P.S. This one's for you, Pal.