I am fortunate to live in a community known for its bridges and our mile-wide Susquehanna River. We use those bridges for transportation, as a means to get to work, to shop, to travel, to enjoy exercise and recreation. We admire the engineering and architectural elements that make them serve their multiple purposes.
Many a Saturday morning, runners and walkers meet to take our Walnut Street Bridge (or walking bridge) for long runs over the Susquehanna and down the Greenbelt. Several local races includes at least two of the bridges on their scenic courses.
At a slower pace, many of us take a family walk along Riverfront Park to relax. Being close to the water is a time for contemplation, a time to take a deep breath or have a heartfelt talk with a friend.
There is something about flowing water that nurtures us. Bridges help us maintain a closeness to the water, an avenue to let our minds flow with the visible current midstream.
As I helplessly watched footage, pedestrians cross a bridge in Irpin, Ukraine, attempting to escape the horrors of war. Residents carefully make their way across a roaring river on what remained of their bridge. They bravely step on to makeshift planks placed to temporarily make the bridge passable by pedestrians, many of them elderly and children.
How quickly life changed for those crossing a bridge that was no longer used as it had been in the immediate past. Now it is a makeshift and hazardous escape route.
I look at the fortitude of those making the trek over raging water and wonder whether I, my friends and family, my community, would have the grit and tenacity of the people of that city. I hope so but I also hope we are never put to the test.
I’m looking forward to a Saturday run over the bridges of the Susquehanna. I don’t know that I will ever see them the same again, or whether I will ever be as appreciative as I feel now toward a community where a river flows and where bridges are there to give us passage for the many ways we use them and the many ways they make us a community.