Sunday, April 22, 2007

Long Time Friends, Not Old Ones


I'm always meeting new people at Starbucks but once in awhile I bump into somebody I've known about forever. Oft times they recognize me. I still have my hair, the hair is still mostly brown, I've had a beard before, and I'm still skinny as a rail. I've known Maureen since some time around 1970 and the only thing about her to change is her hair is now silver . She's one of those brave women who realizes that dyes and chemicals do your hair no good, and the color always looks fake. She's still a damned good looking sexy woman!
She was always a civic activist, showing up at city hall whenever there was a meeting dealing with any kind of environmental issue. One of her causes years ago was preserving Natural Bridge over the North Branch of Arch Creek. The original Dixie Highway, U.S. Route 1, went over the bridge about a hundred feet west of the current U.S. 1, also known as Biscayne Blvd. The old road was barely two lanes wide winding its way through the oak trees while the new one is a multi-lane divided highway that runs right in front of Starbucks. That white building in the background is located on the bank of Arch Creek.
The oak grove was on the coastal limestone ridge, and somehow the creek had found its way to errode a path through it rather than over it, leaving the Natural Bridge used first by the Indians and later by settlers heading south along the coast. The road was no longer being used and a number of civic activists wanted to buy the surrounding land for a park and block the bridge to automobile traffic.
About the same time the Florida East Coast Rail Road had replaced the old wood ties with concrete ones. Somebody, the state I guess, bored a series of holes, like perforations in a sheet of postage stamps, across the road at both ends of the bridge, and stood old R.R. ties in them to block it off to auto traffic. A few days later, probably from vibrations caused by the trains going by but 20 feet away, the bridge collapsed right along the "perforations". I got a frantic call from Maureen and went the few blocks from my house to photograph her dejectedly looking down on the collapsed rubble that for thousands of years had been a bridge.
The bridge has been rebuilt using the rock and concrete but it just isn't the same. The oak trees remain. West of the creek is a City of North Miami park, the Enchanted Forest, while the state bought the land east of the creek to make Arch Creek Park, but it's really just one park.
We drank our coffee, exchanged tidbits about where this one is today and that one, who got married (or divorced), who died, talked about the things we'd done together all those years ago, that sort of thing. And I didn't say it, but I thought about the fact that back in 1970 grandmothers didn't look so damned sexy!

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