An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.
~Henry David Thoreau
In this edition of The Bridge, we’d like to issue a challenge to all of you who are able: WALK!
Walk whenever you can. Walk as far as you can. Walk to feel better about yourself. Walk to make your community a better place. Walk to get to know your neighbors better. Walk to get to know your neighborhood better. Walk because it’s good for the heart, mind, and soul. Walk because it’s easy. Walk because of the fresh air. Walk in the sun. Walk in the rain. Walk alone. Walk with a group. Walk with your significant other. Walk to the store. Walk to the post office. Walk to the coffee shop. Walk in the morning. Walk at lunchtime. Walk in the evening. Walk slow. Walk fast. Walk on the sidewalk. Walk in the woods. Walk to church. Walk to work (if you can). Walk away from the TV. Walk off the weight. Walk away the stress. Walk is not a four-letter word. Walk with purpose. Walk haphazardly. Walk in a straight line. Walk down an alley. Walk up that hill. Walk down the other side. Walk through the cemetery. Walk along the main street. Walk to the library. Walk to the park. Walk that way. Walk this way (Aerosmith). Walk wherever you’d like—just walk! We’ll all be better for it.
We’d like to know about your walking this summer. Send us an e-mail and let us know the farthest you’ve ever walked, or just take a long walk and tell us about it.
Valentine J. Brkich
My wife and I live in Bridgewater, and every once in a while we’ll put our daughter in the stroller and walk up into Beaver to go to the park, get a cup of coffee, go to the post office, etc. Each time we do this, inevitably someone says to us in wide-eyed disbelief, “You WALKED here? All the way from Bridgewater?!?!” You’d think we’d just hiked Mt. Everest or crossed the Sahara, instead of just walking a half a mile or so.
The next thing they always ask is “Why?” My answer: Why not? Why not get out and get some much needed exercise? Why not get out and enjoy some fresh air? Why not save some money on gas, which suspiciously increases in price every summer, just as people are traveling more? (Coincidence? I think not.) Why walk? Why not?
All we hear nowadays is how unhealthy and out-of-shape we Americans are. It’s not hard to see why this is. Think of all the time we spend on our rear-ends. We sit in our cars on the way to work, and many of us sit all day behind a desk. Then, we sit on the way home again before sitting down to dinner. Then we sit on the couch in front of the boob-tube for a couple hours before, finally, exhausted from all that sitting, we go and lie down for 7 or 8 hours. (Too bad they can’t make radial tires out of the same material as our butts; they’d last forever.) The simplest way to improve your overall health is by walking. If you make walking a priority, you’ll not only lose weight and improve your health, you’ll enhance your mental health as well.
And walking is good for your community, too. You may have noticed we have a number of charming downtown districts in Beaver County. You may also have noticed that many of these downtowns are struggling to survive. Why is that? Well, one reason is there’s just not enough parking. Say you want to go the local deli, but the only parking space available is (GASP!) a block and a half away. That’s way too far to walk, you think to yourself. So, instead, you hop in your car and curse the traffic all the way to the local SUPER-WE-HAVE-EVERYTHING-YOU-COULD-EVER-IMAGINE-AND-SOME-THINGS-YOU-NEVER-WOULD-HAVE-STORE, where you drive around the parking lot for a few minutes before finally settling on a parking space that is roughly a block and a half from the deli inside the store. All the while, your local deli is closing up shop due to lack of business.
Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a community where you could walk downtown and find a grocer, baker, butcher, clothing store, shoe store, office supplies store, florist, coffee shop, gift shop, hardware store, drug store, candy store, furniture store, newsstand, restaurants, etc.? What’s funny is that it wasn’t long ago that we were surrounded by wonderful, charming little towns just like this. And you want to know a secret? We could bring them back again if we really wanted to. We just need to take it one step at a time—both figuratively and literally.
So this summer I challenge you, oh people of Beaver County: Get up…get out…and get walking! Get up off the couch and away from the TV (it’s not going to kill you if you miss an episode of CSI, believe me). Get out and talk to your neighbors. Get some fresh air and enjoy your community. After all, before you know it winter will be upon us and you’ll be complaining about how cold and dreary it is.
We sure are a funny bunch of folks, aren’t we?
STUFF WE WISH WE’D SEE IN THE NEWSPAPER
County to Bring Back Trolley System
July 1, 2009—In a move that surprised everyone today, Commissioner Frank Lee Idongivadam announced that Beaver County has received federal funding to bring back the county’s trolley system. The project is due to begin next spring and will connect each of the county’s commercial districts by a new, high-efficiency trolley system.
“Trolleys aren’t new to Beaver County,” said Idongivadam. “Not long ago we had a wonderful trolley/rail system that allowed people to get around cheaply and easily. The other commissioners and I were sitting around trying to figure out a way to save money and improve transportation, when I said ‘Duh! Why don’t we just bring back the trolleys?’ It was one of my finer moments, if I don’t say so myself.”
Back in the first half of the 20th century, trolley’s were a main means of transportation across the country. However, following World War II, many of the trolley companies were bought by the automobile industry and the tracks were ripped out of the streets faster than you can say “money-hungry executive.” After that, Americans were fooled to believe…er…I mean convinced that they had to own a car in order to be happy and survive. It wasn’t soon before the only trolley left was the one on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Now that’s all about to change.
Along with the new trolley system, the commissioners plan to reopen many of the old train stations in the county and offer passenger service again. “After we came up with the trolley idea,” said Idongivadam, “someone – I think it was me – said, ‘Hey, we should bring back the trains too!’ So that’s just what we’re going to do.”
The commissioner said that the decision was made after a 25-year-long study that showed that rail travel is not only cheaper than other forms of travel but that it’s also convenient, better for the environment, and heck, people just like to ride on trains. When asked why it took so long for them to realize this since countries in Europe figured it out decades ago, the commissioner had no comment.
waves of grain falter
tickling the hillside
o’er the top in Cradle Valley
lies Painter’s Brook
feathered in happiness
secluded as the womb
barefoot maidens washboard mended wraps
on banks of prancing ripples
earless babes carousel on all sides
and the menfolk...
distant in the foliage
a whispering mandolin echos
nibly playing with a contented heart
- the reintegration project -
Oh god I forget how to write, this is horrible. I forget how to have the reintegration project. What was it…?
Three big stupid words? Integrated, re-integrated, projects, the… the, the what…? What was it we were even trying to integrate? Oh no, help me, do you know?
Life goes on, it just does, mornings and evenings come and go. Birds fly and kids grow. A poem, randomly in the middle of a crisis? Now what…
Now I can either write about reintegrating, or not.
I can dig deep for the meaning, or, I can think about business and sports. Or I can read a book. Divine
intervention? Or I can write about something else… non-integration perhaps. Or how about anti-projects?
Strange thing is, both writing about the project, and finding its meaning, seem entangled in an ever-expanding juxtaposition of revelation and co-dependency.
Without writing about the re-integration project, it doesn’t seem to exist.
Without the re-integration project itself, writing ceases, because oh my how else to put it?
As rain taps against windows.
25 to 10,000
The writer and the mouse wrote about the place they shared.
The mouse, whose generations called it home.
The writer, who loved the history she learned there.
They met in the kitchen that was built 200 years before.
Their fate became one before she walked out the door.
They wrote a little story for others to read,
Who wondered about that old house they would see.
The writing was fair,
The drawings were spare.
But the history they loved showed everywhere.
Let’s make some books for our family and friends,” the mouse said out loud.
“That’s a good idea,” she said.
They could talk by now.
To the printer they went.
“We’d like 25 books,” they said quite proud.
“Oh, no,” said the printer.
“500 is the least you’re allowed.”
“Not 500. What will we do?”
“Sell them,” he said.
So, they did.
It made them bold and they traveled to all of the places of history.
The writing got better.
The drawings did, too.
The stories were told of times and places true.
The mouse and his writer look back at 25.
“It’s 10,000 now. Can you believe how it’s grown?
The stories of history to everyone are known.”
“They do seem to love the stories, it’s true.
We love to do it, me and you.
Let’s keep on writing and drawing, too.
After all, it’s what we do.”
So, they did.
In the still of the night I am not still
Past and future collide with a myriad of tiny explosions emitting particles of light
Some blinding, some illuminating, some cast me in an unsightly glow
Only One does not ebb – it grows steadfast
Until I realize it has been eternally burning
but I had not been attuned to its frequency
I am HIGH frequency
Sound waves light waves catapulting off the walls
Heat waves dancing up from my Phoenix fire
Singe, Surge and Refine
Walking through that fire has been my undoing and my redoing
My Protean pilgrimage
the path I fled through the thorny underbrush when I ran for my life
my moonless journey lit, again, by the eternal light guiding my feet
even through the labyrinthine detours that I veered into as if on autopilot.
I see the verse written on my foot in glowing letters, but cannot make out the characters.
Seeing through the glass darkly
Too often I lost my patience and shattered my looking glass with my fist
Instead of simply asking for light,
or trusting that I already saw all that I was ready to know.
(Eve was my mother; I cannot be other than what
The scars of my impatience
Tattoo my once innocent skin
I – now, no innocent victim,
wear my scars with the acceptance of one who has stacked his time and been released from prison.
I – now, realize that the moon was there the whole time, too.
Hiding her face
but watching, waxing, waning, the way all good mothers do when their children need to learn to shine on their own.
I – now, return to my Pandora’s Box, to see what’s left.
Hope, of course, her heart beating steadily,
And, instead of razor wire, Hope’s heart is encrusted with jewels.
Each and every color I lost. ALL of the pearls that I threw to starved swine, thinking I’d thereby gain my own sustenance.
My sustenance came not from the swine who, insatiable, tried next to devour me.
But I am sustained.
I am still here.
So, all that I have left is Hope.
But its roots, oh
Its roots, they go DEEP and cannot be torn from me
My fire is always burning. My ashes are returning.
To bit by bit, knit together my broken bones
To piece, by peace, reattach pieces of my Self to my bones
(eyes first, then my womanhood –
– in EVERY JOYOUS ASPECT it was created to embody)
It is not such a painstaking project as you might imagine, dear friend.
Listen for Love’s voice; you will know what step to take next…
There you are.
Open your eyes and see by Wisdom’s light; you will know where to go next…
I go there.
Eleven Years Late
They sent you a letter
And it came to me
They didn’t know
But now I have this envelope
With your name staring up at me
And it almost like you’re still around
And this is your house
And I’m seventeen
And your grass needs cut
All because of this
That I can’t throw away
–Valentine J. Brkich
A Soulmate's Dream
A fire in my life that keeps glistening
ears to my words that keeps listening
without you, something is missing
you are a star, so upon you i'm wishing
blind vision consumes me while alone
the sound of your voice in my heart's song
once weak at love's response, now strong
the pitch of everlasting joy is your tone
i'm back to my old me
now my heart has no more cold freeze
you actually took time to get to know me
you're sprit is like candy, so sweet
to the Lord i've asked to answer
constantly he repeats, ''patience is a virtue''
you are an addiction like sticks of cancer
a covenant is deeper than a promise
i will not hurt you
you're worth jewels
however much i can spend
pack the church pews
you take me away from sin
you're my friend
my golden queen
in the end
a soulmate's dream
4 Rhonette 4rom Stephen Suggs
—Stephen J. Suggs
The Nice Nazi
I saw a Nazi today
Rollin’ down the road
In full Nazi regalia
A lost soul
An alien from another world.
(An alien would have startled me less.)
Did you steal through a tear in time
For some devious purpose?
Because if you did…
To let a man and his dog
Cross the street.
Not very Nazi-like
If you ask me.
But that’s a good thing.
–Valentine J. Brkich
Have you ever stared at your feet and simply marveled at them?
To be sure the Chinese, in the practices of both acupuncture and acupressure, believe that many illnesses both originate from and can be controlled from the feet. Modern day reflexologists understand that there are thousands of nerve points in the feet that when manipulated, can bring a person to a better overall health and wellness, particularly at the base of the feet, which when one considers it, take the brunt of an upright person’s force that can only be measured in the ton. It can be generally noted that a person who walks a lot, can either be the happiest chap around or one miserable SOB.
The fact is that these 26 bones (in the feet) work together to propel muscles, nerves, ligaments and tendons and other bones simultaneously to overcome gravity, and over vast stretches – physically, spiritually and mentally. A physicist relating how walking and the inevitability of gravitational pull might address it like this: Walking is simply a graceful means of falling down.
As I consider now, my life – finding true love, finding a home, finding a town in which to live and one in which to work – I am forced to reminisce on the path that brought me to this place in life, and it was indeed these two feet that brought me here, even to the desk in my house at 4:30 a.m. to write this.
Ever since I got kicked off the bus in middle school, I knew that I was destined to walk a lot. You see, my parents were not the wimpy overprotective parents that one sees today driving their apathetic, text-minded children to school in their giant SUVs; they were and still are a hearty, physical people, who took ten-day stretches deep into our national park systems, coming out filthy after mauling bears and other unsuspecting woodland creatures for sustenance. So when it came to getting my mischievous rear end to school, I walked. I met friends along the way. We lollygagged and laughed, and we were still quite mischievous. But Mother Nature is more tolerant and her punishment can be far crueler than the wrath of the bus driver.
Rain, snow, or shine, I walked and imagined. You’re thinking my parents were ticked. Probably, but I can give the loving act of them shoving me off to school credit for my current life – Christian, conservative, married, father; and at 40 years of age, younger than my peers.
If you live a sedentary, unimaginative life of staring at your TV or computer, or if you’re subscribing to the mindless apatheticals of texting and “tweeting,” try getting up and taking a long brisk walk through Beaver, Flag Plaza in Rochester, Atlantic Avenue in Monaca, or Brady’s Run. And take a friend. Our county is not made for the introverted, “Biggest Loser” crowd, which is the majority of the country. We’re made for action. Take it.