Sometimes just a stroll across a bridge can ease the discomforts of the present time. I did that yesterday. I hope you enjoy taking this walk with me today.
The Ghost On The Bridge
I suppose he built the small bridge of a familiarity, perhaps a time long past that he wished to resurrect into the time of now. Whatever the reason, I found myself standing in my Aunts backyard yesterday staring at this delightful structure that the neighbor had placed to share both his yard and her own. It covered no water, simply grass grows beneath it, but for me it brought back the sounds of the bubbling of a small creek from so long ago. I took the hand of the ghost that beckoned me and moved over the familiar arch of the wood plank and landed in a place I once loved. The yard around me suddenly bloomed into floral, to my left the Cape Cod inspired small white home appeared, and all of discomfort of 2020 evaporated into the smile of old Mrs. White as she followed the path to greet me. I call her old because in the time that I knew her being just a child she was 105 and had lived four lifetimes. In truth she was likely no more than 70 yet her deep wrinkles, the testament to hours tending her gardens, created the illusion of someone much older.
My Nanny lived across the road from this fairytale place in a small cottage that smelled of sulphur ,the sink and bath drains a testament to the old well water that created the inevitable rust stains. Instead of doors she had the beaded curtains so popular in the 1970’s, and each time I walked through I would walk slowly allowing each bead to fall off me as if I were entering some magical space. I loved it here. At times we would simply stay close to the cottage for the day, and would wander outdoors. To the space in between her home and the next, a large marsh area that gave birth to what seemed a thousand baby toads. I carried a large pickle jar, lined with grass and collected my new friends. If I overfilled I would laugh as the top toads used those below as springboards on which to propel themselves back to the ground. It was not uncommon to find me filling my pockets when the jar became burdened. I always released these small creatures back to home at the end of my adventure. To the back of the cottage a collection of old vehicles, parked haphazardly with a big yellow bus the focal point in the middle. This bus became the fodder of my imagination as I would climb aboard and sit alone dreaming of where it might one day take me. In my mind I painted it with peace signs and pink flowers. In todays world this heap of old metal would be removed, too dangerous for small children, and part of me wonders what the children of today might miss in not having an old bus to build dreams on.
Then we had days where we were to visit old Mrs. White. As we would walk down the long laneway from the cottage I would get excited as the weathered fencing would appear. There was, as you might imagine, a small gate that pulled outward and to this day I can still hear the creak that opened into wonderland. I would always run first for the broken down bridge that spanned the tiny waterway beneath it. Large trees overhead gave the sense that I had walked into where the fairies lived. Old Mrs. White would be across the way, bent over whatever bloom she was tending, and would always stand up and wipe her hands on her pants as we approached, launching into a conversation about something or other that would light up her wrinkles and remind me of crinkled tin foil. On some Sundays after church she would host her infamous pancake breakfast; the highlight of my church experience. To this day I believe my Nanny only went because it was something to do, or she wanted to catch drift of whatever gossip might be swirling in the small Meadow Lilly community. She was far from the religious type, yet nearly every Sunday she would sit in the pews as old Mrs. Whites son delivered his sermon, while I would color pictures of Jesus in the Sunday School below. But pancake day with Mrs. White was always the day everyone looked forward to. She was the quintessential witch of the time and the mother of the pastor. I wasn’t so much excited over Jesus but to me she was everything I hoped to become one day. The old lady in the white house, with the weathered lean-to buildings that housed her wheelbarrow, her garden tools and a plethora of old jars of odds n sods.
I would often catch on our walk over, the tiny toads and deposit them beneath the bridge. If she ever noticed she never said a word about my filling her yard with the little amphibians.
As I stepped back over the bridge yesterday I stopped and gave a grateful wave to old Mrs. White. For the reminder that when times are more difficult than they once were, that we can find some solace in old and familiar places. The reminder that some bridges should never be burned but left to stand waiting for us to cross back into a fairy tale of old buses, baby toads and the old lady that lives across the way.
In love, in light, in laughter.