Winter’s a curious time in Wisconsin. As I mentioned in my post “War Against Writer’s Butt,” we can go from fifty degrees and mud to twenty below and ice-roads in a couple of days.
Capturing this transition is all the more difficult. Fortunately, good friend and professional photographer Emily Ebeling gave me permission to share some of her photos from a trip to Cedarburg Bridge.
Winter trees have such a sadness about them. Once I referred to them as “gravestones over their summer-selves.” The way their fingers bleed into the ice below turns the river into a portal, an other-world that I so often sense on solitary walks in my homeland.
The way they huddle together as if caught, and freeze, waiting for you to turn away.
The way a river calls to you, promising safe passage through nature’s spectral giants and their clawing bones.
The way a bridge impresses safety, dominance over nature. Sure, walk on water, I won’t let anything happen to you, for I was made by man.
As far as you know.
The way you stand at water’s edge, and peer down. Rocks both tall and flat, a mix of mashed teeth. Nothing stirs at the water’s surface, nothing peeks from the depths. Do you dare kneel, and cross the boundary?
Some winters will barricade you in your home, forcing you to find new worlds in “the solar system of the mind,” as Blondie once put it. Of course this isn’t a bad thing, but look at what curiosities await out there, like this covered bridge.
Where will this bridge take you at the break of dawn? At the dead of night? If you’re the tenth daughter walking on the tenth day of the tenth month in the tenth year?
Moments like this make me both envious and thankful for a friend like Emily; one who’s able to get out and document such beautiful portals, and does so with both the skill and equipment necessary to do these portals justice.
This is why I’ve always been a sucker for photography that captures both the intimate and epic scopes of landscape. I may never get back to Ireland. I may never return to the Dakotas, let alone travel farther west. Heck, I may never find this covered bridge right here in my state. We each of us live surrounded by beautiful portals to other worlds, many of which we may never get to find. But someone, like Emily, may stumble upon the portal before winter breathes the portal shut. She may steal it away in her camera, and share her findings with you. Then, when you are alone with your jumbled words and these borrowed photos, the magics may spark all on their own. Those sparks may burn open a new portal, and that portal may beckon to you, and you alone.
Don’t return without a tale worth telling.