• Roberta Rathert

Blackhawk Bridge


I left my home area and paddled to Lansing, Iowa. It was a perfect weather day with no texture to the water. Its surface was flat as an iron, so much that dust and bits of debris were sprinkled undisturbed over its top like a cake.


I liked the only terrain made was from the bow of my kayak as it split its way through, spreading into two sharp and defined lines the entire journey. People call these eddy lines, if that matters. I watched them all day mesmerized as complimentary to my rocking strokes. I read somewhere that we are to wear our kayak while keeping a centerline down our front - forehead, bridge, nose, lip, chin, belly button. This line kept plumb prevents capsizing even if wearing the kayak causes a rhythmical rocking as it slices along. I did this for six hours, my only stops for locking through at Genoa Lock and Dam 8, and a hesitation at the Lansing Bridge.


It was the Lansing Bridge that stole my focus for two reasons. It is an old girder bridge with an unsolid surface that hums from friction. The water far below can be seen through it unlike an asphalt top. At 68 years old, I remember this the same as a youth when my family drove me over it to shop at Kmart in LaCrosse.


The Lansing Bridge has stood against time, no one can argue. It is plain as it arches up and back as it's driven over. But a rare look straight on its broadside is a real beaut. It's fine designed outline is awesome, so thin it's a wonder it keeps itself up. I paused in the water as I paddled around the corner where the rare view can be seen. This is a bridge full of simpleness, and a complexity of age and reliability.


It has grabbed the heart of another so much that they chose it as a champion landmark to uphold the message of Paddling for Hope - equity, unity, and fair balance - that we seek in our community and in this world. I feel grateful to the donor whose heart was moved to love the bridge and give in its name.


Not much rest today left me with a heaviness. A loving person gave me a ride to a safe camp after arriving at Big Slough Landing where I left the water. With a bag of food and cold drink, I was left in my tent, too tired to sleep. Night come so I can.


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