Last summer I had a show entitled “I nearly walked by…” Thirty-two photographs showed moments I nearly missed because I was somewhere other than in the present moment. One of the spots I’ve learned to always check as I walk by (or nearly always if I’m being honest!) is the small piece of the North Branch, a tributary of the Winooski, as it passes under the Rialto bridge on State Street in Montpelier.
I love this spot from many reasons. Lots of people pass by or stop to talk because there is often sunshine and a place to sit as well as a coffee shop next door and my favorite gelato shop across the street. But all of that happens at street level. The curious thing about the bridge is that from one side you can see the river but the other side has stores on it so there is no view of the river. People often cross without even seeing the river or noticing that anything is odd.
I frequently see kids dawdling to get a peek through the big balustrades down at the river while, as often as not, their parents are trying to hurry them along. The little ones know!
Down on the river I once saw a family of Common Mergansers, nine babies and a mother duck, swimming along. Suddenly a Mink swam out from the bank and tried to catch the ducklings. In the course of a very noisy minute or two, the mother managed to herd her babies to safety and decoy the Mink away so that all escaped. Meanwhile, on the road level, dozens of people just walked by oblivious!
Often the surface of the water at this spot has a gorgeous texture to it, mainly because of the way the wind buffets it between the buildings. Add to that the sun shining on the side of the old bank building—red brick—and a bright blue sky, and, voilà, another gift for just looking over the edge of the bridge and seeing what might be there.