I was running on my familiar old trail yesterday, one of my main go-to routes, the Rock Island trail. It just reopened after being closed for the last half year for bridge repair. The trail goes right under The Penny Bridge. It used to cost the people riding streetcars a penny toll to cross the bridge to make their way to, what was then, the outskirts of Lincoln.
I use running time to observe, to think, to be mindful. Today, as I often do, I was remembering to be grateful that I can run and exercise. I move independently without a thought, but years of working in a rehab hospital have instilled a conscious appreciation of physical health. Wintery as it was, with a bit of a nip in the north wind, it was such a wonderful thing to have the choice to bundle up and hit the trails.
Because the year is coming to an end, I was also taking a mental inventory of things for which I am grateful. I’ve had a few recent conversations with friends about putting 2015 in the rear view. Buh-bye, 2015, and don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out. But it also occurred to me, as I was running and thinking, that attitude makes me seem anxious to put more distance from things about 2015 that were precious to me as well as the things that were not. This year gave me a few more laughs with my dear friend Nikki. 2016 will not be able to offer that pleasure. I played hand after hand of rummy with my Mother-in-law in 2015. Sunday afternoons at her dining room table passing the deal and chatting about old times with her are also never to be repeated. In 2015 I shared food, cards, music, travel, conversations, walks, runs, writing, work, laughs, tears, and life with friends and family I know I am beyond lucky to have.
Running along the trail I came upon some benches I had not seen before. Were they benches? They didn’t quite look right. Then it dawned on me, they were parts of the railing from the old Penny Bridge, salvaged and placed a few hundred feet from where you run under the new bridge. These pieces from the past, once essential to the bridge’s form and structure, are now a new part of the trail. They are just as important as they ever were, they simply have a new place and purpose.