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Friday, July 22, 2016

Mindful Presences

After a few work related detours, I’m back on the road again! To my delight, my first stop happens to contain more than a 100 covered bridges! Can you imagine my astonishment when I discovered there is (according to reports) at least one covered bridge still standing in at least 30 states, and I hadn’t ever seen – let alone been on – one?

It comes as no surprise that the legendary Von Trapp family chose to settle in the boreal forest ridges of Vermont where every season bursts in festive dress; as it reminded them of the Alpine setting of their homeland. Known for Dairies, lakes and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, Vermont is also the largest U.S. producer of Maple syrup and (at one time) Marble; the legacy of which still remains in the form of sidewalks. Wow. 

At one time, it was illegal to tie a giraffe to a telephone pole, though other changes are slower to come about. For example, the Police Academy in the town of Pittsford has a unique recruit in the form of Nurse Mary; who’s been there since the building served as the State (mostly tuberculosis) Sanatorium.  Though Mary eventually succumbed to the disease herself, she was and evidently remains compassionate, as she reportedly continues to respond to late night buzzes on the antiquated call system installed in every room.

Moving on to Massachusetts, there are a few special laws to be aware of, such as no Gorilla shall ride in the back seat of any car, snoring is prohibited unless windows are shut and locked, and mourners may eat no more than three sandwiches at a single wake. They may have had my next stop in mind on that last one.

Secluded in the verdant fern and grassy woodlands of Leicester is a cemetery called Spider Gates. This atmospherically pleasant place might well be a public park; if not for the dear departed resting there. The name describes entrance gates of iron that do resemble spider webs (some say sunrays), though the official name is Friends Cemetery; owned and maintained by the Quakers. There’s a well-worn path in the earth around the grave of Marmaduke Earl, where walking ten times around at midnight is said to bring good favor and sometimes whispers from the spirit himself! Beyond the majestic hanging tree and alter, the low stone wall which surrounds the cemetery is often dotted with assorted coins for the ferryman; as it and stands before the path to Kettle brook, rumored to actually be the River Styx

Is there a covered bridge in your state? Have you been or would you visit either of these places? What would you say or write about them?

On a stone and marble bench at Spider Gates, sweet Mary nibbles a sandwich near the headstone of her only love and fondly recalls the last kiss they shared in the shelter of Emily’s Bridge before she’d hurried off to her duties at the Sanatorium and he never made it out.


  1. Hi, Diedre!

    It seems quite a coincidence that you and I both mentioned a giraffe in a post the same week. :)

    Mrs. Shady and I have Vermont on our list of places to visit and/or retire. Perhaps we should be careful what we wish for. It's easy to dream of a cooler place when you are sweltering through a long hot summer in Florida, but we need to keep in mind how harsh Vermont winters would seem to warm blooded folks like us. If we visit Massachusetts we would need to make sure our pet gorilla doesn't ride in the back of our car as he loves to do. Perhaps we can teach him to drive. :) If we do get up to new England I would love to taste some freshly produced maple syrup and visit the spots you described in this post. I would love to visit the Spider Gates cemetery in search of Friends from the other side. :)

    To answer your question, there were several covered bridges within a few miles of my home when I was growing up in Pennsylvania. My dad and I used to cross one on our weekend hikes. I can't recall seeing any covered bridges since I moved to Florida 32 years ago.

    Thank you very much for the entertaining and educational post, dear friend Diedre. Have a safe and happy weekend!

    1. Hello, dear Shady!
      Ha - I didn't catch the giraffe coincidence until you pointed it out! How about that?
      I'm with you on the eastern winters. I tried it once in North Carolina and nearly froze to death ;-) I lost a feline friend named Pete, as well. Guess he'd had it with my adventures.
      Teaching your gorilla to drive is a great idea! Aren't some of these old laws amusing? Out here in the desert, donkeys are not aloud to sleep in bathtubs.
      The first time I ever saw a covered bridge (on television, I'm sure) I remember being aghast to think that someone would build a road through somebody's house!
      Thanks for coming along, my friend. I look forward to your visits!

  2. Now if you were going to haul a gorilla around in your car, I would think that would happen in a state like Georgia or perhaps your state of Arizona. Massachusetts and the New England states would be far to proper for shenanigans like that.
    We do have covered bridges in Georgia. It is special to see something so old. They are disappearing with many other items. A hot, wet climate is rough on old buildings, etc.
    I better run out and untie my giraffe. lol

    1. Hi Ann!
      Ha! I agree about Gorillas in New England. It would probably cause as much of a stir as washing your horse on a sidewalk does out here!
      I find Historic buildings so compelling for the many voices; stories held within of the footsteps and prints of the hands that built them.
      There aren't any pet giraffes in my area, but we do have an ostrich farm ;-)

  3. Are there any covered bridges in Tennessee? I've never seen one here, so I always assumed there just weren't any here. They make me think of The Bridges of Madison County!

    1. Hi, Stephanie!
      I think you do have four remaining covered bridges in your state! Lucky you ;-)
      I've yet to see The Bridges of Madison County, but it's on my list. It seems to have all the elements of a perfect romance.

  4. So you really travel to these places? (That's one of my questions in the interview, too. lol) I think that's so neat.

    I've never seen a covered bridge, but they are so lovely and magical and full of history. They get me thinking about all the people who passed through them, and that never happens when I think about normal bridges.

    1. Hi Chrys!
      Ah, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride, my friend. As opposed to most anywhere in Arizona, and excepting just a few other states, this summer my adventures are virtual and consist of the sometimes crazy things that intrigue me.
      I know what you mean, covered bridges are an oddity around here too, since the few bridges we have rarely have water below, I guess there's not much point in having a cover above ;-) But they'd sure be more alluring and we might even know we crossed one - ha!

  5. There is actually a park in Wisconsin called, 'Covered Bridge Park', in Cedarburg. It's really not that far from where I live. More info on it can be found here:
    Feel free to visit that one any time. Just make sure if you visit, you don't bring any margarine. It's illegal here.

    1. Hi Jeffrey!
      How cool! I couldn't wait to visit the site you suggested and fell instantly in love. Talk about some picturesque scenery! June bug greens and towering trees enveloping the rustic old bridge - interesting interior crisscross pattern - I could almost hear Cedar Creek below!
      Thanks so much for providing that lovely distraction from the pile of work on my desk!
      No margarine? Oh well. I like peanut butter on my English muffin anyway ;-)
      (My daughter likes butter and PB on hers and calls it double-butter!)

  6. I don't think I'd ever even heard of a covered bridge until this. I Googled it and we do have one here in South Carolina (and not too far from me). I love the giraffe rule but only 3 sandwiches???? Come on, man!

    1. Hi Quanie!
      And to think you had one so near! Is it haunted like Emily's bridge? Now there's one I wouldn't cross after dark - yikes!

      Ha! You could always stash a sandwich in your purse and eat it at the cemetery ;-)


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