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Monthly Archives: February 2010

Bridge: noun. To bridge: verb.  The first term implies interrupted space but a way to mend it and make it whole again; the second, that getting over a break means getting across.  I appreciate bridges of all kinds;  I suppose most travelers do, since they make any kind of journeying easier.  But I love them, too.  They bring together yet are themselves liminal, always poised in between.  Stand on one and you hang — to varying degrees of safety — in the midst of rupture. Move along to the other side and, in crossing a divide, you’ve achieved a small miracle of travel.

The day I photographed this Moss Park bridge, I didn’t cross it.  Instead, I stayed to one side, watching lazy river currents carry the occasional duck or carelessly tossed piece of trash downstream.  But as I aimed my camera’s viewfinder towards the bridge, I had an unexpected revelation.  A span across a dirty river became more than what it was. In the last flood of pre-sunset light, it became an illuminated promise.  Cross this and be on your way; cross this and be where you want to go.

Bridges, it seems, even small city bridges like this one, are more than utilitarian spans across interruptions in terrain that are inconvenient, polluted or even dangerous.  They are spaces of perspective — unique to the eye of each beholder — not only on what they cross, but also what they link.

I hadn’t been shooting for over a month-and-a-half.  The last time I’d taken pictures, I was in small-town Czech Republic.  And now I found myself back in the US:  Dallas, the third — and biggest — city to which I’d moved in six months.  But when I saw the many winter-bare trees growing throughout Moss Park,  just two blocks from my new apartment, I knew it was time to take out the cameras.

The snow from the second winter storm of the season was almost all melted.  There was no lack of sun, but it was cold, with a wind that whipped you raw if you moved too fast.  I was on my bicycle, a bright blue Wal-Mart Schwinn, wheeling down the paved trail that cut through the park, my two cameras clanking around my neck.  It was late afternoon, close to the magic hour so prized by photographers, when direct light from the sun turns soft and diffuse.  I met a few bicyclists and joggers along the way who were also braving the chill, but for the most part I was alone to bear witness to the day’s end.

Of course, I couldn’t stay on the trail.  Those trees were inviting me to take a look and get to know them better:  from the top down and the ground up; from close by and at different angles through different lenses.  It would have been rude to just observe them from a polite distance and then be on my way.  So I rode across wet grass and through patches of muddy earth to commune with them.

To me, they seemed more beautiful naked than if they’d had leaves to cover them in green.  It was like I was looking at them stripped down to the gray-brown skeletons that spring growth would hide.  I was glad I had loaded my cameras with black and white film.  Color would have distracted from the graceful forms I was seeing and would have made the trees, in their monochrome simplicity, seem ugly.  And that wouldn’t have been fair. In elegant surrender to rhythms greater than themselves,  the trees were only hibernating, holding in the energy that would make them more colorful when warmth returned.