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Monday January 21, 2019
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view of the Huron River from the Barton bridge

The River in Autumn

Bridges are for viewing.

by Bob & Jorja Feldman

From the October, 2018 issue

Spring speeds. Summer saunters. Winter lingers. Autumn invites us to pause and take it in.

The rapidly changing colors of fall make this season a beautiful time for reflection, both internal and external. Our go-to spots for both are along the Huron River, where transient watery reflections add additional wow.

Both land and river trails offer endless visual opportunities for bikers, hikers, and boaters. But there's also a very easy way to embrace the season: Ann Arbor is full of bridges that provide clean, clear, wide-angle views of the river and its environs. A walker can stride out over the river, hit pause, and enjoy the moment.

We especially favor two bridges for their ease of use, accessibility, and views. One is the bridge providing pedestrian access to the Barton Nature Area off W. Huron River Dr. The other is the vehicle and pedestrian bridge at Gallup Park. The Barton Nature Area bridge is flat with rust-colored metal sides and wood flooring. It is somewhat austere. The Gallup Park bridge is a visually pleasing wooden arched structure. It has a single vehicle lane in the center, with walking-biking pathways on either side.

Our images include two views looking west from the Barton bridge and one looking east from the Gallup bridge.

While on a bridge, one can spend as little or as long a time as one cares to, enjoying the view, collecting thoughts or not thinking at all. Savor the scenery, reflect, absorb, stay in the moment, and then be on your way to some more mundane activity.

River gazing from a bridge is somewhat of a solitary experience. While there is certainly traffic across both bridges, neither of us can recall having encountered more than one or two like-minded lookers.

We have binoculars and could bring them to the bridges. But we don't. We could also try and identify the flora. But we don't. We want to inhale the view as an integrated whole, not dissect it into its component parts. Autumn is complex, even contradictory. Leaves fall: death. Buds set: birth. Autumn is cheerfully bright reds and oranges. Autumn is moody cinnamons and browns.

Color, light, structure, weather, visibility, environmental sounds--all change over time. We want it all. We want to keep coming back, harvesting a different enriching experience each time.

If you are not already a bridge aficionado, why not try one of these two bridges, or find another to your liking, for viewing this autumn?     (end of article)

[Originally published in October, 2018.]


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