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A Bridge Too Far

Come on--who doesn't want their own bridge?

Funny thing about owning a real home for the first time: I get thoughts I’ve never had before.

For instance, recently I thought I might like a bridge.

Not like the Brooklyn Bridge or anything. I was thinking about what are called "garden bridges." These are structures that span flower beds, or koi ponds or absolutely nothing. Our neighbors have one of those. Their bridge goes from one spot on their lawn to another spot on their lawn about three feet away.

Nothing against them; they’re lovely people. But I had a real purpose in mind for my bridge. I had somewhere I wanted to go!

You see, we have what might be generously called a stream running through the back of our property. Frankly, I’m not sure it qualifies as an actual body of water, although the area it runs through is classified by Stamford as wetlands, which is giving it a lot more status than it probably deserves.

Let me put it this way: our stream does not need to be forded. It can very easily be mini-coopered. Or vespaed. Or reebokked.

Let me put it another way: you can step over it with one not very long stride.

The banks of our stream do, however, get muddy in the summer. So I was thinking a bridge might be nice so I could cross the stream and walk amongst the trees on the other side, which, admittedly, are a lot like the trees on this side, except that they’re over there.

My daughter’s boyfriend had bravely ventured across the stream in his near-constant search for wild edible mushrooms (or so he says), and reported that there was nothing special over there. Nevertheless, that was our property yonder, or at least some of it was, and, damn it, I felt like I should be able to go over there without soiling my sneakers.

So my lovely wife, who rarely listens to me about anything else, bought me a bridge for my birthday.

It arrived in two large, heavy boxes. My wife knows me well, and she had purchased the model that needed the least assembly, not only because she is aware of my hardware-related limitations, but because she knew she’d kill me if she had to listen to me whistle the theme from Bridge Over the River Kwai for more than a couple of hours.* 

While I appreciated the gesture, once I saw a picture of the bridge, I asked her to return it. Don’t get me wrong; it was a beautiful bridge with handrails and everything, but the slats on the walkway were far enough apart so that our dog wouldn’t want to cross it.

You see, my wife and I had had a philosophical misunderstanding. She had assumed I wanted a bridge purely for decorative purposes. She never dreamed I’d want to actually cross it, and with our dog no less. After all, she pointed out, you can see everything that’s over there, and it’s just a bunch of trees and rocks. It’s not like there are any great mysteries.

But she missed the point; I just wanted another place to walk the dog. And something to stand on so I could look at the frogs that live in the stream. And to be able to say that I owned a bridge.

But I guess we can live without it. Except that I now have a problem.

Where do I put my toll booth?

*If you’d like to hear this, click here. But be warned: you will be whistling this the rest of the day and anyone around you may resort of violence.

For more on our adventures as first-time homeowners at age 57, and moving to Stamford, visit http://theupsizers.wordpress.com/

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