Monday, June 8, 2009

Bennington, Vermont

I owe a lot to Robert Kincaid. The famous, albeit fictional National Geographic photographer improved my romantic stock through much of the nineties. 

On assignment to photograph the Bridges of Madison County, this wandering loner found, and then lost his one true, if inconveniently married, love. The book itself was one very small step above a pulp romance novel, but many women adored it. If they could stop laughing at the stupid bits.

Driving through rural Vermont, an entire state that looks to have been decorated in the same style as my mother's living room, I too am photographing covered bridges. 

From a creative point of view, it's been a patch of rough sledding. A tired cliche, the bridges are squat, dark barns above stream banks covered with dense vegetation and abandoned tires. At random intervals, murderous rednecks roar through them at high speed with tourist blood on their minds. 

I admire Kincaid for even finding the time for his affair. I was way too busy getting lost, clawing through poison ivy or beating my head against those stout and ancient bridge timbers in sheer frustration.

By day's end, I'm done with bridges.

Or perhaps not entirely. There's a young woman working night shift at the Knotty Pine Motel, tan and blonde and smelling faintly of blueberries and the maple forest. I work the Bridges of Bennington County angle for all it's worth. She is having precisely none of it.

I gather that a night of adulterous passion is not to be. I sit alone, washing down my filet-o-fish sandwich with warm beer, and raise a lonely toast to the sustaining power of bad fiction.

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