A couple of bridges that had not been repaired since they were destroyed in the first world war drifted past our windows today.
We can relate to that time frame in a historical context and also to the war museums and memorials that abound, they are within the historical parameters we have grown up with. We know for instance that the oldest stone bridge in Australia was built in Richmond, Tasmania in 1825, the Port Arthur penal settlement closed for business in 1877. The greater part of the history of European settlement in Australia has occurred within the lives of just three generations of my family..
Tonight we are in Stenay, the garrison town that was used by the Germans as their base for the attacks on Verdun. That was in a timeframe that makes sense to us, although when we saw what seems like a huge numbers of artifacts, helmets, bayonets, rifles and badges on sale at the local flea market that conflict of a century ago seemed almost in the present tense.
When we discovered that the town fortifications were dismantled in 1689 after a repositioning of the border between France and the Holy Roman Empire it was another matter. That was before our time, and we were transported again into a zone outside that of our comprehension.
Then we came across a description of a nearby fortification described thus: “Not old for the structures of this region, but worthy of note - Built in 1450”. Even six hundred years isn’t old when you can track what was going on in the village a thousand years before that.
Our mind begins to boggle in a way that people born here don't understand, so we just carry on absorbing it by osmosis, enjoying the view.
Oh what a lovely bridge!