Building a Bridge

In the Woods.

When we started, Lookout Creek was ragging. The cold water grabbed our legs. A thousand excited kids trying to drag us along, show us something. Numb feet feel like hoofs. With hoofs on wet stones we wrestled rocks into place. Wrestling the weight and the water.

Each day we’d hike to this cedar grove. There was moss on one bank. Tools on the other. Each day there was one more gabion, one more stringer, one more plank.

We saw the cedar branches hung low under rain. We saw the grove in the red twilight of forest fires. Ashes floating through the haze like snow. We cut down one of the cedars to make a ramp. We peeled its shaggy bark and shaped its organic side into corners to fit the bridge.

We worked with pulleys and rope, crosscuts and axes. We sweated the satisfaction of building with our hands. We swam in the river to wash off that sweat.

It’s strange that memory can do this to experience. It smoothes over bug bites and bad moods. It lets the fleeting things flit away and grasps onto the substance.

Or maybe it tries to shield us. The friend who doesn’t tell you there’s something in your teeth. Doesn’t want to embarrass.

Or maybe it holds tight to whatever it thinks we need. Revealing more about us now than the actual event.

One of Odin’s ravens was Memory: Muninn. The present can feel like a flurry. In the midst of it I picture Muninn perched on my shoulder. Vigilant. Shadowy. I wonder what it’s looking for. What piece will it grab, hide away and serve up to me later. Why that one?

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