Walking past Earl’s on Maundy Thursday

Continuing on from yesterday’s post … I forgot about waitresses, rainbows and clouds. I thought of other things, saw other things.

One of those things was a particleboard ice-fishing shack sitting on someone’s yard. Ice was fixing to rot off the pond, the season was over. Saw Arthur’s high crooked house, heard him yell ineffectually at his barking dog. Past Earl’s black, patched-together house, hunkered to the ground. He would be out working at the town dump. Few people in this world have as fine a panorama as Earl’s from his tarpaper shack.

This is my romantic rendering of Earl's hut.

My romantic rendering of Earl’s hut.


I looked off toward the east, toward the view he has down the white pond toward the somber mountains. That’s when I saw the rainbow, low in the sky among those hills. First of the season. Unadulterated color-light, lounging across the sky. As long as eyes are to witness, there will be rainbows, for the arc of vaporous color is refracted, reflected only in the eye of each beholder. Standing side-by-side, you and I will not see the same rainbow. The bow’s position is 43° above and beyond the shadow of the head beholding it. When conditions are right, glance 43° away from the shadow of your head and you’ll see a personal phenomenon. (Birds, whose brains have an entire lobe devoted to sight, see the bows. Eagles see the constant rain circle circling the sun.)

I looked around, hoping to find someone else seeing her own rainbow. I resisted an urge to run back to the highway and the restaurant, kept walking toward my bow, filling my eyes, and too soon, sure enough, it was gone. Gone in moving cloud.

Walked alongside the white pond, its ice rotting away. Nights were still cold: it would take a while. Came to the turnoff for Johnny’s Bridge and took it. It’s a low bridge, made of cement. When I, the newcomer, asked how the bridge got its name, neighborhood kids said someone named Johnny was buried in the cement. Later the local historian told me it was named for the drunken son of a mill owner who drove his team off the old timber bridge into the pond. Beneath flowed a channel of dim brown water, flecked with gold in its depths. Ice was slowly melting in a semi-circle on either side of the bridge. Melting away from the channel connecting two bodies of water.

This is the later concrete version of Johnny's bridge. The original is archived below.

This is the later concrete version of Johnny’s bridge. The original is archived below.


I stepped off the bridge onto the embankment beside a clump of alders. The pattern of pocked ice edged the margin where ice and water met. I threw a stone down into the pattern, sinking a circular hole. And another and another, I threw, breaking again and again the pocked pattern. The ice, when struck, moved stiffly up-and-down—the rigor mortise of water.

Here is one of Earl's views before he went to his mansion in the sky.

From the intersection, at johnny’s bridge.


At home I rested under the bed’s headboard, telling Allen, my bearded spouse who sat in light by the window, about Maundy Thursday’s walk, the young woman and the rainbow. And about water in its less spiritual form—that pocked pattern in ice. For bows and ice are both phenomena of water.

At johnny's bridge

At johnny’s bridge, one of Earl’s views before he went to his mansion in the sky.


And he responded, telling how the bow was a token of God’s covenant. “It’s not a metaphor but a real token of a real covenant.” He smiled. “It’s the arc of the covenant. The only place it can be found is in the sky …. Where we can’t get our hands on it.”


Allen, a.k.a. R.

Allen, a.k.a. R.


An avalanche of entries coming this week, episodically posting my Holy Week walks along the Gore Road, as told in our Experience in the Western Mountains. Put out by the imprint Resource Publications, they have asked us to paste this notice whenever we quote from the book: Used with Permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers

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