The Bridge at Patonga

Employing New Materials

We think of a bridge as a device required for crossing a space. A bridge across a creek may have helped crossers to keep their feet dry. We think of a bridge as an inevitable requirement for getting to the other side. We cannot help but want to surmount an interruption to our progress. The grass is always greener and a bridge will get us there.

It was not surprising therefore to find oneself at Patonga on one side of a stretch of water and identifying a possible crossing even if it was only to be visually achieved. A group of young men and women had been chatting in the creek since we had arrived at the beach. As we walked past on our way back to the house, I noticed that the group was large enough in number to reach across the creek if they held hands.

Is it possible to shape fleshy material to my desire? I realised I could ask them and so I addressed them, one voice to many ears. "Excuse me everybody. Would it be possible for you to hold hands and see if you can reach across the other side?"

Perhaps because I was with Jacqueline, I was not perceived to be strange and they immediately started to form a chain. One, who was not in the water, but wanted to be a part, became the anchor, the footing from which the bridge unfurled.

Moments, by their shortness of duration are always hot. From conceiving the idea I was left to record the event, while Jacqueline became project manager. From conception to organisation to implementation to execution took a minute, max.

Perhaps it is not the heat that is so much the issue as the unfolding took place faster than my capacity to think about it or to orchestrate it as I might have imagined I could. On the one hand I didn't have time to spoil it by thinking too hard about it. On the other hand, my bridge was a can of worms.

As I was shooting away with my I-phone, I realised the bridge was also a net being cast out. Each of the people could trap the fish by slapping their legs together. While I had almost successfully built a bridge, there was insufficient time to re-conceive it as a net. I was shooting and gasping simultaneously.

It seemed, if only momentarily that I had caught an echo of an ancient indigenous fishing technique. It seemed, if only briefly, that I had keyed into nature in a way that was... natural. It seemed, if only briefly, that there was access to magic, always, if only we made ourselves available to it.

We can reconcile ourselves with what we can find and make do with glimpses. When the glimpses bring such a richness, we should be pleased. The rush (of time), proved to be a simple moment that passed as moments do.

This was the view from the beach to which we had earlier become attached. Perhaps it was the gap between Barrenjoey and Lion Island that had got under my skin and left me with such an itch to bridge?