The bridge itself is remarkable in that it was built and maintained not by the state or a city but by a family, in 1890, to provide access to their farmlands across the river. Following a flood in the 1920’s, the bridge before me became the only remaining member of this class, of which more signs are to be found in its narrow height and hidden cattlegate, now pinned back to one side. On reading of its rebuilding in 2009, I am reminded again of the impossibility of such a task, no matter how unintrusive the method. Planks were still removed, and steel rods added. If Martin Bridge indeed survived the flood, can it still be said to exist?
Just before the New Hampshire-Maine border sits Lake Umbagog at the center of a small state park. My companion pulled off the road for a time to cool his heels and take in the waters. From the shore, I could just make out the bottom, tinged red, perhaps even crimson, as one might see in a tub of water where one has left leaves to rot and dissolve, vegetal flesh permeating the water. I followed his silhouette on the pontoon, against the mountain backdrop, and reflected that, although some eat their way through a place, he swam his way through them and that, in the deepest pores, the reddish residues from this lake would add themselves to those from earlier bodies of water, fresh and salt. All this in the unseen nooks of his skin.
In a town just down the road, we stopped in at a general store to have something in the way of food for the afternoon. I marveled for a time at the mere fact of finding myself in a general store, which have all but disappeared from other areas. As I padded through the different aisles and considered sandwich toppings, I mentally transposed the store to my native plains and found myself blocked at every attempt. Even leaving the woods out of the equation, I could not translate the clean, wooden structure, high ceilings and neat rows of products, national brands though they were, into more familiar settings.