This is the rock bridge I cross a dozen times a day on my way between my house and my parents’ house. It’s a ten-inch thick, four-foot long slab of Juniata sandstone, bashed from its resting place in the middle of the Plummer’s Hollow boulevard by my Dad’s bulldozer during a major road upgrade project back in 1994, and installed by yours truly, with tractor, a few months later. It spans a drainage ditch where water only intermittently appears on the surface. But since we let the lawn revert to weeds (around the same time we improved the road), the surrounding area has turned into a wetland of sorts, and one can often hear lonesome water gurgling a foot or two underground.
My first impulse — being the sensitive, poet-type guy I am — was to let the bridge keep its secrets to itself.
My second impulse was to get out the heavy machinery.
Dad volunteered to operate the bucket while I snapped pictures. Kids and adults gathered ’round for the momentous Flipping of the Bridge. My cousin Jeff said he hadn’t felt so much anticipation since Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone’s vault live on teevee.
The bridge-rock came loose from its moorings with a minimum of fuss. The backhoe stood it on its side with one metal finger. It seemed safe to approach.
We found… mud. The adults jeered. But Devon and Morgan seemed able to appreciate its finer qualities. This wasn’t like finding some low grade of bituminous in your stocking on Christmas morning. This was good, dark, rich, mud.
Could we get another shot of that, please?
Who knows when I would ever see the underside of this rock again.
Jeff took the camera and got a picture of me as I lay on my belly, taking one last, long look before we set the rock back down. Wait, what’s that? Something moved!
A cricket clung to the underside of the rock, its antennae twitching. This was, unless I am mistaken, the northern fall field cricket, Gryllus pennsylvanicus. You’ve heard them, I’m sure. This species calls all day and most of the night, and like many crickets, seeks out places with good acoustics in order to play its lonesome song and draw as many groupies as possible; the long, narrow space between the rock and the mud might or might not qualify. I’d hate to think we raised the roof right in the middle of a rock concert.
The bridge didn’t quite return to its original bed at first. Dad had to use the back of the bucket to push it into place.
The kids quickly forgot their disappointment. I’m sure they will long remember the scientific lessons and natural wonders of their first-ever International Rock-Flipping Day.