Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Signs

I had the most routine walk to work. One step out the door, three down the steps, several across the street, and I was on my way over the mossy, twisting sidewalk: past iron lampposts and hanging baskets overflowing with blooming flowers, and fragrant greenery. My favorite part of the scenic walk was where I crossed the Wildflower Bridge. It was a beautiful little swinging bridge: rustic in appearance, and beautiful as it stretched across the dreamy creek and escorted the winding path into the dusky, mystic forest beyond. If I had the leisure, I would stop mid-crossing and gaze at the water swirling beneath, just for the sacred feel it brought.

One night, a raging storm twisted through our village, leaving behind flooded gardens, crumpled roofs, tattered hanging baskets, and broken windows. The next morning, I joined the stream of work-bound people and walked with them under a gloomy and overcast sky, trying to avert my eyes from all the wreckage and waste while also trying to watch my step lest I slip on the generously strewn mud or break my brisk trot by stumbling upon some shattered glass.

Then I saw it. My bridge – the Wildflower Bridge was gone. Obliterated, save for the one wooden post belonging to the torn railing that was probably surging through the torrential surf miles away. The impatient and disappointed crowd of workers beside me was driven to follow a long, winding bypass to reach their respective offices. As I walked, I tried to forget the incident, tried to carry out my daily work with as much vigor as in days past, but I could not.

For the next few days, as the town rose to its knees, then to its feet, I watched and waited, hoping for my bridge’s recovery. Even as the town dusted its jacket, straightened its hat, and as the creek waters receded, I waited for the bridge to be restored, or for a report of some kind on the progress being made.

It never came.

I engulfed myself in my work so I would not dwell on the disappointment. Because I had to make such a wide detour, I was never on time anymore, so it was necessary that I worked longer hours. As I passed my creek in the midnight gloom, I hummed so I could not hear its laments for they tore into my very soul.

The warehouse next to the creek was one of the first to go back into business. As I passed by it each midnight, I was surprised to see the lights on, and to hear banging and grinding – the sounds of machinery at work. Men streamed in and out both morning and evening. These events confounded me – I knew not what to make of it – I only hoped they were rebuilding my bridge.
These things continued for many weeks.

Then one day, it all made sense. That morning, I saw it.

The Sign.

It was a beautifully painted Sign with intricate flower designs and hand carved lettering. Its oiled surface gleamed in the warm sunshine, and for a moment, it captured my complete attention because of its vast proportions and the impressive craftsman-work. I could read of the time and skill devoted to it by gazing in its face.

It said, “Danger! Caution: Wildflower Bridge (Est. 1857 –by Javid Valleniour) is Out. Please follow detour.”

Later that spring, someone planted fresh daffodils and lilies by its base, and the patch was beautifully maintained throughout the following seasons.
We continued to use our detour.

9 comments:

Kiera said...

This is my favorite one! I love the imagery!

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Kevin STark said...

Thanks for letting us advertise the site, Jen! Great work, btw.

Anonymous said...

Like Kiera said, this is my favorite one also. I saw it printed before; when did you write it?

Jenn Joshua said...

Thanks! I wrote it about a month before it was published here...

Godsgirlofgrace said...

that's what I was gonna ask too. I love this story, because it really sticks with me.

ANDREW said...

So often we really do tend to work on satiating the problem not eliminating it. What a great reminder for us to start at the root of a matter and work our way up. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with everything everyone is saying.

Jenn Joshua said...

Thanks, anonymous! You make our lives easier... ;-)