One Word Sunday: Bridge

Rötibruck Shadows 18.09 (2)

Living in a Swiss village with the River Aare running though it, we do not have a shortage of bridges. Now and again they are repaired. One of the main traffic bridges was even rebuilt some years ago, the new construction being built next to the old one. It was quite an easy task to just remove the old bridge afteerwards. Here is a somewhat different photo of this bridge, catching the reflections of the sunlight on the concrete support.

One Word Sunday: Bridge

Photo Challenge: Bridge

Roschti

There are bridges and bridges I suppose. On the same day that the builders had finished building the scaffolding on our building, the neighbour’s feline, Roschti, was the first to try it out looking ahead to see if this new play centre was something interesting.  I was sitting at my desk on the computer and saw him taking the first steps. This was his one and only walk across the bridge, as he had a problem on how to descend.

I went into the garden to see if I could help him. I did help him as he decided he did not want a confrontation with me and leaped onto a pile of tiles from where he was.  This is no problem for a feline and he survived.

Photo Challenge: Bridge

Daily Prompt: Bridges everywhere in life

Footbridge over the River Aar by Zuchwil

The bridge that crosses the River Aar to the other side. This is no big deal. Sometimes you have to cross the bridge to get to the other side. You can also walk along the river path and eventually everything comes together in the town of Solothurn where here are a few bridges.

Am I supposed to write a dissertation about building bridges in life now, or just bring a few pretty photos? I can do both. I noticed I have many bridges in my photo collection. I also realised that my life has been one bridge building consruction, although generally I crossed the bridge on my own heedless of what the others said and always seemed to arrive on the other side more or less safely, perhaps picking up a few bruises on the way. Mr. Swiss and I have crossed many bridges together with success. Now we might hold hands more when crossing, because golden oldies are no longer so sure in thei steps.

Moving to another country was one of the bigger bridges. They even spoke a different language. Mum was sure I would return after a couple of weeks. The weeks became a couple of years. Mum is long gone now, at least 30 years, and dad passed on this year and I am still in Switzerland looking at the bridges from this side and will no longer be crossing to the other side, at least I have no intentions or reasons to do so. I can now say that I have finally broken all the bridges up between England and Switzerland and left them beind me.

The nice thing about bridges is that you can take some good photos of rivers and the surroundings, as well as the water whilst on your way. There are some bridges I do not like to cross, as they have gaps between the wooden planks and an uncertain feeling arrives not knowing whether you could put a foot wrong or not.

In the year 2000 the Millenium bridge was built across the Thames. At this time I was more or less making an annual visit to London to see my dad once a year and I had some time to do a little bit of sightseeing in between,  but mainly in the evening, hence the dim light effect on my photo.

The Thames London, looking West

For me it was something completely different because London had not got any new bridges for a long while, at least not in my time. This bridge led from the South bank near the Globe Theatre to St. Pauls cathedral. Of course I was completely in the picture, having grown up in London and knowing all the landmarks. I decided this bridge was a must, I had to conquer it. After about 30-40 steps I realised this was not my sort of bridge. Not only an open construction, but I felt unsafe. I believe when the bridge was opened it had many vibrations and was deemed unstable. Oh the parallels in life! Some time later, this had been corrected, but I still felt unsafe. Give me Tower Bridge any time, although it was on Tower Bridge in London that I fell and broke my arm. Even the strongest of bridges can have their pitfalls. I was probably not very good at bridges.

I now leave bridges alone, and like to take them one at a time. I do not think I will have to cross many more bridges in my lifetime, although I do have intentions of taking a Winter walk to the bridge in the photo. The sea gulls often take a break on them when flying down the river and they never lose their grip because they always know where they are going.

Daily Prompt: Bridges everywhere in life

Daily Prompt: Beyond the Pale

When was the last time you did something completely new and out of your element? How was it? Will you do it again?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us NEW.

Bridge leading to High School, Solothurn

Just a bridge you may think, but this is not just a bridge. It was built in 1986 to connect the village of Zuchwil to the District Comprehensive School of the Swiss town of Solothurn, but it there is a story behind this work of architecture. For years the children living in the areas surrounding Solothurn had to make their way first of all to the town of Solothurn on one side of the river, cross one of the Solothurn town bridges and return along the opposite bank to arrive at their school. This took time of course.

It was then that Pope John Paul II changed things for us. Solothurn is a catholic area and when the Pope decided to pay a visit to Switzerland, featuring Solothurn it was the hit of the year. Solothurn was expecting many visitors to see the pope and Solothurn is a small market town, so we had to have another bridge. The Swiss army saved the day and built a footbridge in a few days to accommodate the masses coming to see the pope. The idea was to relieve the situation crossing the river from the station to the town for all his fans. The bridge looked OK, nothing special, just plain old wood and supports, but it served the purpose. This was in 1981.

Unfortunately it was also in 1981 that there was an assassination attempt on Pope John Paul, which made a change in his plans to travel to Switzerland and meet his followers. The papal visit was cancelled and Solothurn was left with a makeshift bridge which did not fit into the surroundings. As quick as the army built it, it was again removed. The school children were again reduced to a long journey to school along two river banks.A bridge must be built and in 1986 the bridge in the above photo was completed. For a while it was even known as the Pope’s bridge, but today carries its official name as the Schützenmatt bridge. Me being a golden oldie I remember the impact on Solothurn life at the time, but this all happening more than 30 years ago, the newer generation of school children are not so aware of historical facts. Unfortunately two stately white poplar trees had to be felled to build the bridge which caused a few mutterings in the local population. It is a foot bridge/bicycle bridge.

So that was the Solothurn history lesson of the day.

And now to me. The First time I did something new and completely out of my element? That is the story of my life. I was always good for a surprise, life would otherwise be a little boring. I never did a bungee jump or rode a horse (not even on my bucket list) although I did have one riding lesson a few years ago. I discovered that a horse is warm, it breathes, and moves not exactly according to my ideas, so after spending fifteen minutes on its back and needing at least ten minutes each way to mount it and demount it, I decided it was not my thing.

I am a lazy quiet person and not known for my movements. I do take a walk now and again, usually with my camera, and in summer tend to look after the garden. My garden is now mostly full of perennials as they grow every year with no additional backbreaking work.

My last escapade was a little more than a year ago. I belonged to a forum site and one of the members was a faithful disciple of Tai Chi. Ok, two Chinese words that brought scenes of slow movement to my mind outdoors in a park. Another member of this forum site mentioned that she had bought a DVD and since working with this DVD her movements had improved considerably. This was it, I was sure. I was not known for slow graceful movments and tend to trip over my feet now and again when walking. I organised this DVD and found, not bad. Nice soothing music and just waving your hands around slowly with all the trimmings was no big problem. This was when me decided to take a step further. I looked in the local newspaper and discovered our local rheumatic league had organised Tai Chi. I enrolled over computer and two weeks later I was standing in my nice loose clothing, track suit similar, along with a few other golden oldies doing everything in slow motion. I got hooked and stayed for a year.

The time suited me. I could have my golden oldie sleep after lunch, get ready and go. Then there was a change in the programme. Some of the co-golden oldies (we were all in that group) decided it would be a good thing to start our hour earlier. This caused me stress and I stopped. A couple of months later the lady in charge called me to say they would be having the lesson at the old time, whether I would be interested again. It seems a few of the other golden oldies had dropped out, their places being taken by younger golden oldies. I said “yes” and next week I being again according to the actions of Mr. Paul Lam, our guru, a Chinese living in Australia, but guiding us on the way to enlightenment. I am doing it again.

Did it help me? I still do not know, but Tai Chi is stress less, no rush and I have not yet broken any bones. One exercise does supply a problem: reaching forward with one arm and standing on the opposite leg whilst bending the knee. It seems this is where balance is an important factor, but I am allowed to grip a chair or other object to steady me. My body has forgotten what balance is. Where there is a will there is a way.

Daily Prompt: Beyond the Pale

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The Bridge

Jack Bruckman climbed into the cabin of his Locomotive. He felt a little bit sad. Although he was now old enough to be retired, he just loved his job. It was a family thing. His grandfather Hermann Bruckman came to the States at the beginning of the twentieth century from Germany with the family and helped to build the railway. He was even sadder as it was many years ago that grandfather Hermann drew his last breath and he was now laying at peace in the local cemetery. Grandad Hermann told him a lot about the early days.

“You know Jack, when I arrived in the States there was no railway like today. The main cities were connected and there were even stations in the smaller towns, but the folks had to wait until the train arrived; there was no regular service for the small towns. Just take a look at the local River and see the iron bridge connecting the two sides. I helped to build that bridge and if it wasn’t for that bridge I would never had met your grandma.”

And then Hermann would tell him the story of their meeting.

“There I was, a young man in my prime, but just about speaking enough of the language to order a beer. They organised a canteen at the camp where we workers were staying. We came from all over the world. The locals did not like us, they said we were taking the work away from them, but that just wasn’t true. There was enough work for everyone, but the Americans had their farms and professions like being doctors and lawyers. They just left us emigrants to get on with the handwork at that time.

So where was I? (granddad tended to drift off the subject now and again). Ah yes, the canteen, well there was a very pretty young lady helping to serve out the food and drink at midday. She was the prettiest little thing I had ever seen and she always had a smile for us men. I had the feeling she had a special smile for me, so I took my courage in my hands one day. There was a dance at the local town at the time and I asked.

“Miss, my name is Hermann Bruckmann and  I was wondering, if you haven’t got anything else to do on Saturday evening, if you would accompany me to the dance.”

“Well, I will have to think that over. I sure don’t have anything going, and if my dad says it’s ok, I would be pleased to come with you. I will tell you tomorrow.”

“She told me her name was Amy Rogers.

Well you can imagine Jack how a young man like me was just happy to know she was willing and it seemed her dad said yes, as the next day she told me everything was fine and I could meet her in town. She didn’t tell me that she had kept it from Pa Rogers about me being one of the emigrants. That wasn’t too bad, but her three brothers were at the dance as well. Cutting a long story short, we had a little fight. No-one really won the fight. There were three of them against me but I held my man. We all had our cuts and bruises, but it seems the brothers found I was a good fighting man and I was invited to dinner the next Sunday after a week. I sure was a bit nervous, but it was a good family. They had a farm and knew what hard work meant. The Rogers family were known as being an honest upright family in the area and the father of the family even worked on the railroad himself as one of the American pioneers in the business. So that was how your grandpa met his wife and your grandmother, bless her departed soul, was the most wonderful woman I ever met.”

“I remember grandma” said Jack “She used to make the best apple pie I have ever eaten” and that was how Jack got to know a bit of family history. Jack’s father was the first locomotive driver in the family and Jack followed in his father’s footsteps.

Although he was now approaching retirement, he still had a week before his last day’s work. The railroad had aged with time, and a lot was being rebuilt. The old iron bridge was being replaced by a new bridge had already been built further down the river. Next week it was going to be used for the first time. No longer in iron, but in the modern concrete with a designer form that won some sort of architect’s competition. It was not that Jack did not appreciate the modern buildings, but he just hung onto the old iron bridge. Soon the train was filled with its passengers travelling to the next largest town. It was a two hour journey, but that did not bother Jack. All being well, he would be at his destination by lunch time and after lunch speeding back home in the locomotive again.

He loved this route. After an hour he would be approaching the old iron bridge, the one that his grandfather’s hands helped to build. As he neared, the bridge, mist descended upon the railway from the river. This was nothing out of the ordinary. It was autumn and the cold nights were a cause for the heavy morning mists. Visibility was almost down to zero but he knew the way. Every rivet and wooden plank was etched in his mind. Suddenly he was surprised; he saw a red signal light on the tracks just before entering the bridge. He pulled the breaks on the train, but felt a bit uncertain. In his complete life as locomotive driver this had never happened. He then saw a figure approaching, walking along the tracks. It was still misty but the figure was swinging an old petroleum lamp in his hand.

As he got nearer Jack stuck his head out of the window.

“Is something wrong?” he asked.

The figure turned towards Jack, although Jack only roughly saw him through the distance. It was the figure of a young man.

“The bridge has a problem. You have to wait here. It’s not safe” said a voice from the distance.

“I don’t understand” answered Jack “it was ok yesterday. What’s the exact problem?”.

The man in the distance spoke.

“Seems that over the many years the bridge has been used, the rivets had got a bit loose and some of the railway tracks are not so certain any more. You can’t drive any further than this point.”

Now Jack had to make a decision. He had never had or even seen a signal in this place before and this man that was giving him the news seemed to be a bit strange. Jack climbed down from the cabin of the locomotive to have a look himself.

“I wouldn’t walk too far out onto the bridge” said the voice “it is not safe any more”, but Jack decided to have a look for himself. The people in the carriages were getting a bit restless and the car attendant, Joe, was already standing at the entrance to the train looking in Jack’s direction with a look as if to say “What’s going on?”

Jack called back to Joe “seems that there is a problem with the bridge – I will have a quick look.”

So Jack walked down the lines towards the bridge. Everything seemed to be fine; he then got to the beginnings of the track over the river and noticed that underfoot the wooden planks were a bit shaky. He put his foot out for the next step and realised that his foot was hanging in the air. Suddenly he felt a tight grip on his shoulders and was pulled back. He turned round but saw no-one there. One thing was obvious the old bridge had seen its last train and was no longer able to take another train and whoever or whatever had gripped him had saved him from falling into the river.

Jack hurried back to the train and spoke to the car attendant, Joe.

“It seems the bridge is broken there is no connection to the other side. A few more yards and the train would have been at the bottom of the river. I have that man a lot to thank for.”

“What man Jack?” answered Joe.

“Didn’t you see him? He came out of the mist waving one of those old paraffin lamps and made me stop the train. He told me there was a problem with the bridge.”

“I thought you were talking to yourself Jack, I didn’t see anyone. I saw you went onto the bridge, but if you say it has collapsed, then it looks like you have saved our lives.”

Then something came to Jack’s mind.

“Well something saved my life as I would have walked on had it not been for someone who pulled me back. We have another problem. The 11.15 train will soon be arriving at the bridge from the other side. We will have to send a report”.

Jack and Joe made their way to the radio set that all trains have in case of emergency.

“Hello central” said Joe. “We have a problem. The old iron bridge has collapsed and someone will have to stop the 11.15 train as it will be driving over soon. Perhaps you can operate the red signal sign to stop it.”

“Ok Jack”, came the answer “but we don’t know what you mean by the red signal. We have not had one of those in the last fifty years. They were all replaced by radio. We will radio the 11.15 to let them know.”

Gradually the mist was disappearing and vision was getting better. Jack now saw what had happened. The tracks on the middle of the bridge had disappeared into the river below. Indeed as Jack was looking two made their way downwards meeting the river with a splash at the bottom. It was then that Jack saw the 11.15 approaching the bridge and was hoping that Central managed to warn them in time. Indeed, with only a few feet to spare the 11.15 came to a halt, all breaks screeching which could be heard for miles around.

Bus transport was organised for the passengers of the trains on both sides of the river and they were transported further down the river to the traffic bridge, Joe joined them in the bus and he was applauded and received with congratulations, after all he was the hero of the day and had saved everyone’s life.

Joe, the car attendant was sitting next to Jack.

“So tell me Jack, who had you seen at that bridge. Admittedly the sight was bad because of the mist, but whoever it was managed to save us all.”

“I don’t know who it was” said Jack “everything seemed to happen so fast. It was a young man that appeared out of the mist and he told me not to drive any further. I think it was him that saved my life by pulling me back just as I wanted to take a step further on the bridge.”

The bus was now pulling away from the bridge and Jack looked back. He could have sworn he saw his grandfather standing in a group of other men dressed similarly in the old railway uniforms all waving as they pulled away but Jack decided to keep that for himself.

A week later the new railway bridge was opened to the public and as a special treat Jack was allowed to sit in the locomotive which was pulling the new train. It was Jack’s last ride in the driver’s cabin of a train, but he decided it was good to end his working life in this way.

A week later he visited his grandfather’s grave. His wife asked him why he said “Thank you grandpa” at the grave, but he pretended he did not hear her.