Monday, September 18, 2006

Girl on Broadway Bridge

It’s not as if I stop for any stranger that flags me down. Her sense of urgency might have alarmed me if not for the expression of pure elation on her face….

Last Friday I was riding home at about 6:30 after our first rain of the Fall. As I headed across the Broadway Bridge I glanced north and saw the Fremont Bridge rising out of an ethereal mist, then glanced behind me to see downtown Portland, and darned if it, too, wasn’t rising out of an ethereal mist. I stopped to take pictures north, west and south; and although cameras – at least in the hands of amateurs – often let one down when it comes to capturing mood, I’m not too unhappy with these.

Don’t think you’re experiencing fully the richness of the moment by looking at these pictures, but at least they give you the idea. For the real thing, you just gotta be there (perhaps you were….), and to be there, you have to be traveling either by bike or on your own little tootsies. Those are your only two choices. I know this because I stood there watching the motorists zoom by. They did not turn their heads. Their view, and necessarily so, was of the back of the car in front of them. Now think of it -- which would you rather look at? This?

Or this?

Not only did the car people not see what I saw, they did not feel what I felt –- the dampness of the air and the tickling of the mist (yes, the ethereal mist) on my face as I rode through it. Nor could they have even noticed the stalwart young woman standing at the railing toward the bridge's other end, and even less likely, the excitement on her face as she sought out the eye of the next person to come along. That would be me, riding in her direction after I’d taken my pictures.

She had some question for me which I couldn’t hear. Her expression and demeanor promised health and good news, so I stopped willingly, confident that no panhandling or disturbed babbling would ensue. She was smiling by this time, pointing south, and asked “Did you see the rainbow?”

I had not, actually. In spite of the fact that I was on a bike, in spite of the fact that I’d even further slowed my travel to a walk and then to a standing position, in spite of the fact that I had just taken a photo of the darn thing! Can you believe that? Look, here it is, the picture I took before I even met up with this pointer person. Can you see it there, the lower right stub of a rainbow emerging from left of the Steel Bridge and then diving behind the clouds? It doesn't show up nearly as well as it did in real life. Rainbows have an aversion to being photographed.

Perhaps I was too busy “seeing” the foolishness of the people in their cars. We all need help, don’t we? We all need help seeing what’s right in front of our faces. That’s what we’re supposed to see most, not some imaginary moment in the future that may or may not come, like what you’re having for dinner or what you’re going to be when and if you ever grow up. So thank you miss rainbow girl, for pointing that out to me -- me who thought she saw all but didn’t. I doubt I'd even have noticed it later, looking at the picture when I got home.


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