Perhaps it's a misnomer to say “country bridges” since most bridges are in the country, and if you need to cross the rivers and lakes and streams that dot the landscape, there must be a bridge to take you over, even if it's a small, crude, unstable-looking one. I suppose there are a few bridges in cities like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It was probably built when the area was "country" like rural Arkansas. But the bridges that I’ll refer to are the ones from my childhood. Also, I never knew those fancy, colorful, stately, covered bridges existed until years later, when I saw pictures in magazines. I never saw any in my neck of the woods.
But let's cross the bridges that really “got to me.” They are the small, insecure-looking ones that I didn't like. Occasionally, while traveling to the fields, church, or wherever we had to go, we encountered at least one. Actually, there’s a small bridge right at our little country church, but that one didn't frighten me too much. I reasoned that since it is only about twenty-five feet long, if our car had fallen into it, we probably could have easily crawled out of it. But whenever Dad drove across those other little, scrawny, rotting-looking wood bridges, I held my breath until we were completely on the other side. Then I sighed a sigh of relief. I always wondered if one day a too-heavy vehicle would attempt to cross and the bridge would give way. Of course, that was simply my irrational childish fear, and, fortunately, it never happened.
Sometimes — depending on where we were going — we came to a bridge that we had to cross on foot. While I was a little scared if we were in the car, if I had to tromp across it myself, I was a lot scared. When I walked across those bridges with the planks that looked like they had spaces between them a foot wide, and where you could see the water flowing beneath, I just didn’t want to go to the other side. And, unlike those three Billy goats on the Ugly Old Troll's bridge, I didn’t tromp across. As scared as I was, I held my breath and tiptoed across as though I thought my little, 50-pound body would crash it. I was too scared to stare down, thinking that by staring the bridge would sense my fear and collapse underneath me.
There are a few bridges that probably span a quarter of a mile, but those are normally crossed in a vehicle. And for some reason, I didn’t have too much fear when we rode across those overpasses. That’s probably because they appeared so big and strong and secure, as though even the biggest, longest, heaviest truck wouldn’t shake it.
Perhaps other country kids didn’t have that fear, but I did, and I think it’s normal. By the way, some of those same rickety bridges are still there, and when I go home, I even cross over some of them. As safe as they were then, they are still safe today.
Photo by Fotolia/ovcerleonid