An old railroad trestle from an abandoned spur line crosses the Little Juniata River right where our access road joins the highway on the other side of County Bridge 45.
I had to meet a ride down there yesterday morning around sunrise, so I brought my camera along.
It was the coldest morning of the year so far – 2 degrees Fahrenheit. This was a bit of a shock, coming right after several days of unseasonable warmth. But it meant that the air was as clear as it gets, and the river had a thin layer of freshly-knit ice along the shore.
When the sun rose, the surface of the water came alive with swirls and streamers of rising mist.
I took dozens of pictures, most of which completely failed to capture the beauty all around me. In the same way that writing poetry forces one to confront the limits of language, taking pictures makes one appreciate the gulf between icon and vision.
Last summer, some of the local kids turned the river below the trestle into a swimming hole. They climbed all over the trestle, too, and fought boredom by vandalizing the railings of “our” bridge. During the colder months, the area around the bridge becomes much quieter – a good, out-of-the-way place for a variety of illicit transactions, most of which occur after dark. People seek transcendence in all kinds of ways, most of them as fruitless as my attempts to cling to ephemera through words or pixels. As for the trestle, it ends abruptly at the far side of the river, the victim of a highway widening project some fifteen years ago. Not even a ghost train could cross it now.