I drove through Poland at a steady pace, keeping it at 35 mph because the police were out in full force today, no doubt trying to catch partiers reveling in the streets before the madness of fireworks that will come later. But they paid me no mind because I drove in a straight line and kept my eyes on the road in front of me. My phone buzzed in the cupholder between the front seats, alerting me to a new text message, but I ignored it and kept driving toward the bridge.
That’s one thing I noticed early on around here. In order to get to our town of Newport we have to drive over at least one bridge, something that seems simple enough. Except for last summer when the floods came and made major detours necessary to get from point A to point B. Several times I had to traverse whole swaths of miles just to get back to my original starting point so I could go a different way, where a bridge was still intact.
The bridge in Poland is a small one. In fact, if the bridge weren’t there and I was able to ramp my speed up to, say 120 mph I think I could jump the gap. Hopefully I’ll never find out if that would indeed be possible, and to that end they have been working on reinforcing the bridge of late. In fact, they seem to be working on every bridge that gives access to Newport, but that’s a story for a different time.
Two days ago I came through Poland on my way home — for the first time in a very long time — and one side of the bridge was closed off to traffic, as was evidenced by the line of cars backed up into the town proper. As I finally drove across after a fair wait, I saw the large machine that so resembles a steam roller moving slowly from one side of the bridge to the other, smoothing out the freshly poured asphalt. It carried a smell like tar, that warm aroma that brings with it memories.
And then today as I approached the bridge I worried that it would still be that wait, everything on hold for the holidays, but I was mistaken. Instead, as if by some stroke of magic, the work was complete, all the equipment carted off for similar jobs on other bridges, on other roads, in other principalities. Across the little bridge, instead of the hustle and bustle, was a new path made of asphalt, black as night, split down the middle with two parallel yellow lines that met up with others entering and exiting the bridge.
So I drove across without stopping, and right on the edge of the northern side of the new path, still in the aroma of freshly baked tar, was newly minted roadkill, a small creature that had probably watched all the action from the side of the road and decided to enjoy the bridge’s renaissance. I hoped he died happy, but I only dwelled on it long enough to pass into Poland proper and on through to Newport, where I make my home.