On Bridges

The County built a new bridge, finally, across Willow Creek down by Holt’s Guest Ranch. I suppose it was about time, the old one, made of timber and only one lane wide, had holes in it where you could see the water rushing by, and was endangered by the concrete trucks, well drilling rigs, hordes of new covid-inspired recreational vehicles, and such that crossed its perilous planks daily.

Water that I fished as a youngster, learning to cast an Adams or a Mosquito to the brookies and browns who took my fly under the film and I usually missed until I learned to look into the water to see them coming and set the hook at precisely the right moment. The brookies and browns were once predominant, having overtaken all but a few remnant cutthroats, and were themselves crowded out by the more aggressive rainbows. Of course, the rainbows were taken by the whirling disease 30 years ago and stopped reproducing until they figured out how to reintroduce disease resistant rainbows, which seem to be a favorite, but not mine.

We, the family, stayed at a miserly cabin at Holt’s sometimes in those days before Shalom. At age 13 or 15 I would head upstream with my rod and empty creel in the morning and return only when I had my limit of ten trout. I learned to false cast my fly after every catch so it would float a bit longer. And to see into the water.

In 1975 or so we brought my grandmother to Taylor Park for the first and only time. I think she was 75 and seemed old. Freddie had moved from Blackgum Creek in Oklahoma where her Cherokee mother Mary had failed to prove the claim on the land near Tallequah after her mother, also Mary, died on the Trail from North Carolina. Displaced from their land, again, they moved to somewhere in northern Texas in 1909. In a wagon. Freddie was happy to sit on the bank of Willow Creek in one spot and fish all day long with a cane pole and some worms on the bend just below the old, old bridge, while Dad and I worked our way up the creek with our new-fangled fiberglass rods. When we got back, she had more trout than we did and smiled.

Four properties changed hands in the neighborhood this summer, each beautiful, enthusiastic family intent on building a dream. I don’t blame them, having once done the same. But, still. Things, times are changing.

The new bridge is solid and concrete, which is fine if you are driving or if you want it to last a long time. And it connects two relevant points.

I suppose this is what happened to the frontier, with all its faults and continuous changes. If there was another hill, a mountain range, or a plain, I might have crossed it, but here I am. Here we are. With a new bridge. Maybe it will be better than the old one.