Red-lined and sprinkled with symbols locating items and places of interest (intended to guide return visits), my county maps tell the plenitudinous story of roads traveled over the years and discoveries made along the way. A wealth of precious chance encounters. A small waterfall here, and old farm house over there.
Instead of the sweet renewal of an old acquaintance, however, return visits can often be a source of dismay and downright consternation. Natural roadsides once rich with wildflowers are widened, straightened, cutback and bare. Old churches once emblems of community heritage are either replaced or strangled by multiple mismatched additions framed with edge to edge blacktop. Country stores unable to compete with full service convenience plazas are boarded up and overgrown.
Early yesterday morning, with trepidation I turned southwest on Johnson Mountain Road and headed toward a map symbol labeled 'old plank bridge'. Cautiously ready for a taste of bitter tea. Instead, that chilly morn the tea was mellow and sweet. A blessed reprieve, still standing, still spanning. Goose bumps rippled like the shallow waters of Salacoa Creek, and all was right with the world.
© d081102-016 Old Plank Bridge
Johnson Mountain Road
Bartow County, Georgia
Sunday 2 November 2008