Roadside reminders

2 10 2012

We’ve all see them, the poignant roadside memorials to loved ones snatched to soon by accidents.

Sometimes it’s just a simple cross.

Others are more elaborate, adorned with photos, tokens and mementos, flowers, messages of love, sorrow, pain, heartache.

In the car we zip past them, just another piece of the urban landscape we barely notice.

On the bike we have time to read the names, study the faces in the photos, ponder the lives lost, the circumstances of that loss. The care given to some of those memorials can be astonishing, heartwrenching, as flowers are changed regularly, birthdays and anniversaries marked with balloons, gifts, even years after the accident.

The mystery of these memorials is heightened because rarely does our passing seem to coincide with visits from the people who tend to them so lovingly. It’s as if the balloons and photos and messages appear by magic, placed by some unseen presence.

One of the most touching memorials along my regular routes escaped my notice for the longest time; it’s on a flat straight section of road along which I’m usually pedalling hard, head down, pushing for the home stretch.

A roadside memorial that’s also a library.

At first glance it looks like an oversized roadside mailbox. But on a more leisurely ride I saw it’s significance; it’s a little library, filled with books, hardcovers and paperbacks. A sign above the front door invites visitors to take a book to their liking, and leave another behind, all in memory of the man for whom the little roadside library shrine is named. A tribute to someone who obviously loved books, and his community.