I did a lot of driving this weekend. Luckily, I don’t mind driving…in the right conditions. And I had those conditions this weekend. I like my car and enjoy driving it on nice days, windows rolled down, on traffic-free roads when I’m not in a real hurry (unlike when I’m making that annoying commute to and from work Monday through Friday). It doesn’t hurt, either, that I love my little red sports car.
I can do a lot of thinking on those drives…when there are few, if any, other cars on the back roads (I always prefer the back roads). And I can work on stories or poems in my head. It’s nice to have that quiet time. It’s also nice to turn up the radio and just not think about anything–work, chores, all the misery and violence on the nightly news. It’s relaxing. I like the scenery and find it calming. Whether it’s the stately old trees lining stretches of pavement for uninhabited miles or charming country homes with cows in the fields beside them, it’s almost as entertaining as any TV program I could be watching.
I like to imagine stories about the people who live in the houses dotting the countryside I’m passing through–areas so rural the streets are named after the few people who live on them: Shannon and Lauren Lane, Mike McConnell Ave. I wonder who Shannon and Lauren are. What are they like? Are they the much-loved small children who live in a house at the end of the lane: the sign to honor them, the miracle of birth prayed for finally arrived? Are they two unmarried old siblings still living at the family farm years after their own parents have passed, trying to keep it afloat in an uneven economy in which farming is no longer a viable way of life. What are their days like? Do they share morning tea with sunrise each day on the porch that begs for a fix-it man? Do they go out to a barn to milk a cow or collect chicken eggs before the sun even comes up?
And who is Mike McConnell? What kind of man is he that would have a road sign named for him? Is he a narcissistic sort? Loves seeing his name in print? Territorial, putting his name on his road to announce to the world it’s his? Or is the sign a matter of practicality, easier than giving directions to his middle-of-nowhere homestead by use of “landmarks” that look the same mile after mile: “Just look for the sign with my name and turn right” instead of “When you pass the eighty-third oak tree…”
That’s how I spend my drives and part of what makes me enjoy those longer drives, with the warm wind in my hair and the worries of my real world behind me.
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