Lezli Robyn is an Australian genre author living in the US with her mini-Dachshund/Chihuahua, Bindi. Her love of books led to her meeting her future collaborator, Mike Resnick, on eBay. Since that serendipitous event Lezli has sold to prestigious markets around the world, becoming a finalist for several awards, including the 2010 Campbell Award for Best New Writer. In 2011 and 2014 she won the Premi Ictineu Award for Best Translated Story, with Mike Resnick. Their collection, Soulmates, was just released, and she has several upcoming books, including When Parallel Lines Meet (by Phoenix Pick), On the Mechanical Wings of Dreams (by Hadley Rille Books), and Bittersuite (by Ticonderoga Press). This is her second appearance in Heart’s Kiss.
THE BRIDGE BETWEEN HEARTS
by Lezli Robyn
When it comes to romantic books-turned-into-movies, you can’t beat The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller, for giving any reader or viewer good value. I remember sitting on the couch with Mom, watching tears roll down her cheeks when Clint Eastwood’s character Robert Kincaid drove away from Meryl Streep’s Francesca Johnson. At the time I was too young to really understand the impact of the scene, but I knew it really moved my Mom. She had married her childhood sweetheart, so she had never known the loss of a partner, but some movies—and especially, some books—are pieced together with such talent that they can give you a glimpse into another way of life, help you feel what those characters must have been feeling in those moments.
I remember being fascinated, even then, by the covered bridge so evocatively represented in the movie. As a young teen I couldn’t understand the purpose, in a practical sense, of having a roof over a bridge, when it only takes you but moments to cross the bridge in the car. Sure, it kept the rain off, but you were meant to drive through it, not stand under it. It seemed that the only purpose of the covered bridge was to add suspense and romance to certain scenes in the movie.
Then I grew up. I moved to the U.S., more specifically to Ohio, and I realized that these bridges weren’t just props in a movie; they could be found all over the United States, and often had a fascinating history. I discovered the roofs were used to keep the bridge from building up ice or snow in winter (which could cause someone to slip off the side into the water), and that often the animals who were herded over it had a fear of water, so the covered bridge kept them from realizing they were crossing a river and bolting. Out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes.
The “cover” also added structural support, and helped the bridges stand the test of time, protecting the inner surface from the elements. Yet somehow, despite the so many wonderfully practical reasons for the bridge to be covered, they became known as a romantic destination, too, in big part for the role they played in bringing the lead characters, Robert and Francesca, together in The Bridges of Madison County.
So why don’t you discover some of that romance yourself? (I did!) Drag your Significant Other on a tour of the covered bridges in your area. Not only can they be varied in appearance, and the drive to reach them often very scenic, but there is lovely feeling of history when you drive through one, and half of them are closed off to traffic now—you can literally have a romantic picnic in the center of a covered bridge, if you want, to add a personal touch to your date.
There are also many festivals held at covered bridges around the United States, including one in Madison County, Iowa, on the 14th and 15th of October this year (at one of the locations filmed for the movie!), and The Covered Bridge Bluegrass Festival in Union County, Ohio (near where I live!), on the 23rd and 24th of September. I know from personal experience that the later is a great event for couples to attend, with bluegrass musicians playing on the bridge while venders stationed all around it offer you traditional festive treats, but the night before the festival a fully catered dinner is also offered on the Pottersburg Covered Bridge (1868) to a select few. As you can imagine, seats are limited, so booking as soon as possible is a must, but it would be a great surprise for your loved one, especially if you wanted to propose in a unique setting that symbolized a true bridge of hearts.
Now, if you were wanting to recreate any scenes from The Bridges of Madison County with your partner, or perhaps do a themed professional photoshoot to celebrate your recent engagement—who says Robert and Francesca can’t have a happy ending?—then here are three particular bridges used in the movie that you could drive to: the Roseman Covered Bridge (1883), the Cedar Covered Bridge (1883), which most-commonly adorns the cover of the book, and the Holliwell Covered Bridge (1880)—all found in Madison County, Iowa. At these locations you will see where Francesca took Robert to see his first covered bridge, where she helps him with his National Geographic photoshoot and where her children scatter her ashes.
While there were a couple more bridges used during filming, if you hit those three (alas, Cedar Covered Bridge was burnt down by arson, so you will be visiting a replica) you know you’ve visited the main bridges shown and mentioned in book and film. Francesca leaves a note for Robert during a pivotal scene in the movie, and the covered bridge that he found it on now has a notebook inside it for couples to leave their own messages of love in real life.
“Which bridge is that?” I hear you ask.
Well, you’ll have to take a road trip to find that out for yourself.
HOLLIWELL COVERED BRIDGE
ROSEMAN COVERED BRIDGE
To see The Bridges of Madison County tour itinerary, offered by the
Copyright © 2017 by Lezli Robyn.
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