You might not choose it as the best place to sit and wait for a cross section of Spokane to pass by.
After all, some people seldom get out of their cars. And the Kardong Burlington Northern Bridge over the Spokane River is for runners, walkers, skaters and cyclists, not automobiles. But late Sunday morning, this Centennial Trail landmark next to Gonzaga University was a good spot from which to observe something else.
It was this. Despite what some frail spirits would have you believe, not everyone around here is a weather wimp. A lot of people don’t consider the weekend a lost cause just because the sun doesn’t shine every second.
You wouldn’t doubt that if you had spent an hour watching an intermittent parade of people crossing this low bridge named for Bloomsday founder Don Kardong and the railroad that donated it.
The wind was about as mean as it gets this time of year. The sky was so overcast it almost needed reminding that this isn’t tornado country. But dozens of exercisers were out on the trail. And everyone was friendly, except for this one snarling old man and a couple of young women who probably feared a flasher.
I staked out a position near where I stood during the bridge’s low-key dedication ceremonies back in June of 1988. And I waved, smiled or said “Hey” to the runners and skaters.
They waved, smiled and said “Hey” back.
Some of the wood planks rattled as people passed.
Nobody said anything about the weather. It wasn’t necessary.
Wind whipped cigarette smoke out of one cyclist’s mouth, making his exhalation look like jet exhaust.
Church bells chimed not far away. A couple of ducks zoomed up and eased to a wet landing beneath the bridge. The winter-like light made the swirling water look greenish gray.
A survey of the graffiti now defacing this architectural cutie pie (the colors of its railings and latticework seem to have come from an assortment of Easter egg dyes) revealed lots of the usual, “I Love Bree,” “Isaac-N-Mindy” and “Kim sucks.”
The trash on the river bank beneath one end included beer bottles (both domestic and imported), empty corn chip bags, a bus schedule, a couple of water-damaged checkbooks, a pair of tan Dockers slacks, one white athletic sock and a condom.
But the most interesting thing was the faces going by. The expressions weren’t really self-congratulatory. It was more like “I thought I’d feel better if I got outside for a little while and I was right.”
, DataTimes MEMO: Being There is a weekly feature that looks at gatherings in the Inland Northwest.
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