I live for these aha moments. I had suggested to my friend Anneke that during a planned shopping trip to Rotterdam she take a few minutes to look at some of the spectacular bridges there, including Calatrava’s astonishing Erasmusbrug. I’d mentioned that i was, at least as far as art was concerned, a cultuurbarbaar (culture barbarian, a word she’d just taught me), but that i had an abiding love for bridges, as the numerous photos of them on this site suggests.

And then it struck me. I grew up in the pancake-flat semi-desert of west Texas, where you could wade across all the rivers unless there’d been a recent rain upstream. Most of the bridges out there were simply a roadbed over a couple of concrete culverts, and the others were low, flat, and utterly uninteresting.

Since most of our streams were intermittent, we sometimes did without bridges by paving the roadway through the streambed and erecting in the middle of the channel a post with intervals of one foot marked on it as a depth gauge. If more than a few inches were flowing, you just waited until the level subsided or you came back later. This did not normally require a lot of patience.

low waterHere’s one at the edge of the campus of Midland College, where i taught in my misspent youth before it had a campus.

No wonder i’m fascinated by bridges: I grew up starved for the sight of them. I mean, would you rather feast your eyes on the above or the Erasmusbrug?

And yes, i’m even more of a cultuurbarbaar than i realized, as the Erasmus bridge is by Ben van Berkel rather than Calatrava. I was misinformed. The Internet is a rich source of information, and some of it is just flat wrong.

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