Friday, August 31, 2007

Lingering at Hall Road Bridge

My husband, Dan, and I completed a 13 mile kayak day-trip on the Thunder Bay River in northern Michigan, exiting at the Hall Road Bridge. Earlier we had spotted a bicycle at the take-out next to the bridge, and while Dan rode the bike back to the car I had some time to linger.

I walked out to the center of the bridge on Hall Road, a little-used dirt road surrounded by state forest. I don't know what got into me, but it sure looked like it would be fun to jump off the bridge into the fast current which winnowed through the narrow culvert under the bridge. I decided the 12 foot jump would be foolish, not knowing if there were rocks below the current and no one to help if needed. Damn, if I didn't hear that nagging old voice, "Get serious Cheryl, you don't have the courage anyway."
I stepped back from the edge and noticed far down the road a group of 5 people walking abreast. It was a slow, lazy, summer stroll and as they finally got close enough I could see 5 teenage girls with towels wrapped around their waists. Well, at least I will be able to go swimming safely in the company of others, I assured myself. But instead, these rough-talking, spit-chucking girls walked to the center of the bridge where they made themselves comfortable resting on the guard rail. After a few minutes of lively and loud banter, 3 of them took off their towels and without much hesitation jumped into the river. They must have seen the glee on my face because they asked me if I would like to do it. "M a y b e......" , I coward. "You can get between us. We will hold your hand and jump together," the girl who spat the most figured. Not wanting to give up all control, I suggested that I just stand at the jump-off point and try it alone. So I was alone, on the edge. Two girls were below in the water to catch me, two girls were at the top to coach me, and one girl had my camera to get a shot. It looked more scary now that I was actually prepping myself for a jump. I hee-hawed around, until the girl who spat the most shouted, "Come on! You only live once!" I don't know why that remark from some young person who didn't even know me pissed me off, but it made me decide that I wasn't going to go to bed that night and feel disappointed that I didn't jump. So I sent myself off the edge, not a forceful leap but a step into a youthful burst of fun. It seemed like I would never hit the water. They caught me, pulling me from the center of the current, cheered, and gave me hugs. Then they led me by the hand through the slick culvert and fast current under the bridge to the other side where we played in the current. They were so sweet, protective and fun, their natural selves, I'm sure.
Still there were two girls who hadn't jumped yet, the two who spat the least. They wanted to do it and held hands at the jump-off point. For ten minutes they approached the edge, looked over it, backed up, chanted one-two-three, and went nowhere. Getting tired of this routine and shivering in the water below as one of the catchers, I finally hollered, "Come on! You only live once. You're not going to wait until you are 57 to do this, are you?" That did it. They jumped...and they yelled much louder than I did! Group hug.
By the time my husband got back, I was all by myself again. I asked him how the bike ride was. He said he enjoyed a beautiful, quiet ride through the forest. I didn't doubt it. He asked me what I did while I waited for him. I told him I jumped off the bridge with a bunch of new girlfriends. He didn't doubt it. He must know something about girls!


Debby said...

Cheryl, all I can say is that you are so cool!

Leasa Maxx said...

Beyond cool! (Way cool, actually is what I think the kids say these days.)