Posts Tagged With: Ohio River

The Ferryman Silently Waits: An Allegory

So in response to my mother’s passing, this short story pop into my mind and needed to be written down. Hope you enjoy it.

The Ferryman Silently Waits

In the dark shadows of my heart, the Ferryman has come to collect his due. Staring at me from the shoreline, his faceless image reminds me that I still have not released her for this last passage. He is waiting for me to say goodbye to her, to send her broken bones across the river on his watery vessel. Frozen in my tracks I am unable to scream at him from my grassy hill, to tell him how much I hate his presence waiting on me. The Ferryman is always silent at the edge of the river, pacing, waiting, quietly. I try to ignore his presence drifting in and out of the shadows of the oak trees of my mind. I pray that he loads the ferry with someone else’s remains and crosses the river with them instead of her. My prayers go unanswered and he continues to wait and watch until I am prepared to pay his fee to release his ferry from the shore. His payment for crossing the river is the sacrifice that we all must pay. He gathers our tears. He collects the wailing of our hearts and mourning cries of our souls. His dark dirty hand collects our pain and suffering like gold coins as payment for the journey. Charon the ferryman needs this toll of pain and suffering to raise the veil on the foggy river, to deliver our loved ones to the other side.

EssexLymeFerry-610x403

 

I refuse to bring her to the shore, refuse to load the casket on the wooden planks of the waiting pallet. I have not added the daisy chains to the deck of the ferry, nor the candles or candy for her voyage. It is not for me to release her into his care. It is not my place to send her to the other side. I dare the Ferryman to come up the shore and take her. I yell at him from the moss-covered hill. “She is still mine and you cannot have her.” In his dirty dungarees, he says nothing and only raises his hand as if the payment was already due. He knows that death has already come. The shrouded body of my mother is peaceful and beautiful. Like a spider, I have her cocooned her against the elements. She resides safely on the hilltop covered in moss and flowers. I have no strength to place her in the casket or load it on the wagon. I have no will to drive her down the hill to the river for the silent Ferryman.

cable ferry
The Ferryman does not care for me, he has no sympathy for the living, and his job is only to serve the dead. He does not have the means to bring death to the old, sick or those born too early. His only power is to transport his passenger from the land of the living to the land of the dead. My heart is broken and I fall on my knees in the flowers, pray. I pray for understanding, forgiveness and for love. I feel the heavyweight of my loss in my heart. I am not sure how to face another day without her.
A storm is brewing on the horizon. I watch, as the clouds turn gray and rise in heaping mounds. As the last member of her generation, she will join all the others that have gone on before her. The storm knows my mother is coming and wraps its icy breath around her. The Gail wind tries to raise her from her deathbed. A draft of wind moans through the trees and across the shore into the mist of the river. I know there is nothing more I can do for her in this world. As her shroud flaps wildly in the wind. The Ferryman watches the storm arrive and signals to me that it is time for the arrival of his passenger. I know that the fury of the storm will take her if I do not begin the painful parade to the river.
There is no escape from this journey. It is cruel to the spirts to delay their joyful reunion and I know that I am being selfish. I know that it is wrong to cause this suffering. However, suffering is a small price to pay to have one more glorious morning with her. I rise to my feet, lift the heavy remains of the woman who gave me life onto my shoulder. I lower her into the casket and place it on the wagon. I load the flowers, candles, and candy in the wagon until it is overflowing. I drive a team of grey, mute donkeys down to the shore. There I slowly lower her casket from the wagon onto the Ferryman’s pallet. With a faceless reach, he slowly pulls the rope attached to the pallet on to the planks of the wet ferry. The river rises to meet them as my tears shower down on the dark blue-gray water. I stand motionless, knee-deep in the cold water. Drained of all my strength, I stand watching as the Ferryman ties off the pallet and raises his pole to push the wooden vessel into deeper water. The Ferryman’s toll is paid, as I begin to shudder with tears. A shiny silver coin would have been much easier to part with then this wooden casket.
The Ferryman reaches hand over hand as he pulls the heavy rope that moves the flat bottom ferry into the current of the river. Slowly the mist turns to a white wall of thick fog. There is no noise except the sounds of rain hitting the river and the creaking of the saturated boards straining to keep the ferry afloat.
She is leaving me behind. She floats with a stranger to a new land. “Choran, do not leave her for the wolves”, I yell into the fog as the ferry disappears from my sight. All that is left is the sounds of the rain on the tree leaves and the creak of the wet wood in the distance. The Ferryman will ride with her through the passage, into the cove, where he will release her from all pain and memories.
Soaked and chilled to the bone I slowly slog back to the bank. My wet clothing weighing me down, I fall on my face in the soft slit of the shore. In the sand, I wish I could trade places with her, to stop my own pain and to find freedom in death. The cold finally drives me ashore back into the wagon where the team is waiting for me. Silently I promise to get them home to a warm, dry, barn. I spend the remainder of the night in front of the fire, warming my bones with a strong brandy until the storm passes.
The Ferryman never reappeared on the river near my farm. My mother’s remains never wash ashore downstream. I believe her trip was successful in reaching the cove and shore of Hades. I know that after the storm I found the sky more colorful and peaceful than I had ever before. The sun shone down on the flower-covered hill and the river returned to its gentle flow. I am sure that the Ferryman was paid that night and I will not see him again for many more days. Love comes at a price that no one is prepared to pay. However, I would not miss this adventure for anything in the world. To love and be loved is more valuable than any pain that the Ferryman can bring me.

 

 

Categories: Death, Ferry boat, Ferryman, fiction, Ohio River, short story, sickness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

For My Love of Bridges: Wheeling Island and Walkersville Covered Bridge

 

Wheeling Island Bridge deck and walkways

Wheeling Island Bridge deck and walkways

So as a creative person who loves to take photos almost more than any other free time activity,I spend a lot of time thinking about where and what I will take photos. Ten years ago I found my muse. Unlike some photographers  I do not take a lot of photos of humans or love to trek into the wilderness to find beautiful vistas or take photos of the night sky with a million stars. I can’t help it, I love to photograph bridges.

This summer I actually spent some time with two historic bridges here in West Virginia and wanted to add them to the collection of photos I have of them. Then if that is not strange enough… my husband recently started work for the State Wide Bridge Department for the Dept of  Highways here in WV. So I get to fallow him around our state taking more photos of bridges he works on and in the surrounding area of his locations. My love affair always seems to lead to him!

So I wanted to share some photos of where we have been this summer and what I have seen. My first stop was to see the oldest suspension bridge that is still open to traffic in the United States. The bridge passes over the Ohio River and connects Wheeling Island to the main city of Wheeling, West Virginia and the state of  Ohio. The Island is a large populated island in the Ohio River with a wonderful history of flooding and escaping the river. Bridge construction completed in 1849 and has been in continuous use ever since. The bridge looks almost the same as it appeared in the 1800 except for the decking was changed in the 1950’s to better deal with the problem of swing caused by the wind and traffic.

Stone Pier of the Wheeling Island Bridge, Island side.

Stone Pier of the Wheeling Island Bridge, Island side.

It is one of my favorite bridges so far because the bridge design has always included the two side walks you see in the upper photo… Meaning I get to walk across the 1010 foot span of the bridge and not get stuck on the road way to take photos and I get to feel the strong cables that hold me above the cold water of the Ohio. I spent some time imagining the many families who would walk the bridge in the early 1900’s to get to the city to buy necessities for their family every week. Then make the return trip before dark with tired children and arms full of produce and meats. The view from the bridge is lovely, it shows off the Ohio River Valley and some of the  historic homes of Wheeling island.

Barge moving slowly up the Ohio River from Wheeling to Wirton West Virginia

Barge moving slowly North up the Ohio River from Wheeling to Wierton West Virginia

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New Life Church on the bank of the Ohio River on Wheeling Island… and my little silver car!

The bridge drops you on Main Street in downtown Wheeling and only about a block from the Capital Theater.  It is West Virginia’s largest and oldest theaters… and a career starting point of Brad Paisley’s musical life. It is beautiful and worth it to stop to enjoy its charm and if you are lucky see a show.

Front of Capitol Theatre, Wheeling West Virginia

Front of Capitol Theater/ Theatre, Wheeling West Virginia

Pediment of Capitol Theatre/ Theater, Wheeling WV

Pediment of Capitol Theatre/ Theater, Wheeling WV

The Bridge and Wheeling island are nice reason for a trip to downtown Wheeling. There are so many beautiful places hidden in the old down town area. I hope to spend more time walking the city streets at some point but for this trip the National road and Wheeling Island bridge were a great way to spend the afternoon.

The other bridge the my family stopped to take photos is not far from our home and is one of 17 restored Covered Bridges that remain in West Virginia. This one is pretty small in comparison to others, but It is still a wonderful place to enjoy the views. The Walkersville Covered Bridge is in the southern part of Lewis County in the North Central Region of the state. It crosses the Right Fork of the West Fork River and passes through several small communities. The bridge is a 39 feet 4 inches long and constructed in 1903 to help passage of farmers from their farms to the city of Weston. My family passes the bridge quite often and I love to stop and walk on the wooden trusses and wonder what it would have been like to drive a team of horse with a wagon through the bridge.

The bridge is off the main road and gets very little traffic. The bridge and the surrounding small farms and pastures make it a perfect country setting for photos.

front of the Walkersville Covered Bridge in Lewis County West Virginia

front of the Walkersville Covered Bridge in Lewis County West Virginia.

South side of Walkersville Covered Bridge in Lewis County, WV

South side of Walkersville Covered Bridge in Lewis County, WV

This last photo I took is my favorite of the collection. The inside view makes me think of all the “Sleepy Hallow” movies that I have loved through out my life. To ride a horse through the bridge on a cool foggy early morning would just make this little bridge come to life for me.

Inside View of the Walkersville Covered Bridge

Inside View of the Walkersville Covered Bridge.

The day we stopped to see the bridge the farm next door was taking a lunch break from bailing hay on the hot afternoon. I just could not keep myself from taking a photo of the tractor and bailer at rest for a short time in the field.

lunch time on the farm during hay season

lunch time on the farm during hay season.

The covered bridge will be part of a seasonal series that I hope to make. Because the bridge is so close to my home I can take time during winter and fall to try to capture some of the beauty that nature adds to such an old structure. I hope to grow my photo collection over the next couple of years and share them through a calendar at some point.

 

 

Categories: bridges, nostalgic, photo review, Photos, traveling | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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