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On the downhill slope of a dirt road, west of a small one-room cabin, there flows a creek whose memory winds through the minds of those who have grown to love that place. Strung between a tree with the names of many a relative carved in its bark and an ancient pine, a bridge hangs above the water and the rocks below.

My great-grandfather had a farm there once, and left the ground for his family to love as he once had. He loved that place and made it his home, and his love echoed through the lives of his children. His daughter married a man of meager means. That man became my grandfather, and the place shaped the young couple as much as their work shaped the place.

My grandfather headed to the woods after his shift at the factory and on the weekends, hauling whatever scrap lumber and used nails he could scrounge so that he could work on the cabin that stands there now. When my grandmother became ill, the place became his sanctuary and the work his restoration. For the 10 years she lay in a coma, the place was in many ways a home for my grandfather and my mother.

As he is now older and unable to do much, the upkeep of that place has fallen to me. I rebuilt that bridge last summer. My grandfather's bridge had begun to sag and creak with each crossing. The water is not deep there, and there's no real need for a bridge. Nevertheless, the place that had given me much beckoned, calling me to make an offering of thanks for the beauty and the love it has inexplicably sewn to my memory. There by that bridge, I first kissed a girl with our feet dangling in the water. There I went camping with friends when we should have been at school, dunked my cousins in the swimming hole, caught wary trout in the cool of a spring ...

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In the Magazine

December 2012

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