I found some new country roads this weekend with lots of hills and curves and dead-ends and surprises.
If people think Nebraska is flat, then they’ve never gotten off Interstate-80. I drove for miles seeing neither car nor person. I discovered roads that are closed (likely indefinitely); roads that are minimally maintained; roads with bends, turns and curves, for no other apparent reason than a row of trees in the way; roads that embraced hills that rose out of nowhere; and roads with sharp rights (and no other options).
I was very aware of the different road signs I encountered. It seemed important they were photographed.
Minimum maintenance road.No gravel. (and that doesn’t mean it’s paved…it’s all dirt) Road closed. School bus stop ahead. Driveway ahead.
A sign indicates what is to come. It is a courtesy provided the driver to know what’s ahead, sometimes a warning to slow down and other times a clue that a surprise could be around the bend. And other times a sign just made me wonder, why?
A sign conveys a meaning. Why is this road not maintained anymore? Did it used to be driven and walked upon and now it scarcely sees a car? And why is there a curve here, a turn there? Not a single car did I encounter for miles, nearly 45 minutes, and yet the sign waits for someone to come along to take notice. I wonder how many signs I ignore when I’m not in Surrender to Surprise mode and instead in a hurry.
My friend Steve, who loves poetry (and who I count on to just feed me the good stuff, having no patience for poetry that I don’t connect to quickly) (yes, I see the irony) shared this poem: Hurry, by New York Poet Laureate, Marie Howe:
We stop at the dry cleaners and the grocery store
and the gas station
and the green market and
Hurry up honey, I say, hurry,
as she runs along two or three steps behind me
her blue jacket unzipped and her socks rolled down.
Where do I want her to hurry to? To her grave,
To mine? Where one day she might stand all grown?
Today, when all the errands are finally done, I say to her,
Honey I’m sorry I keep saying Hurry—
you walk ahead of me. You be the mother.
And, Hurry up, she says, over her shoulder, looking
back at me, laughing. Hurry up now darling, she says,
hurry, hurry, taking the house keys from my hands.
Adults hurry in a different way than children hurry. Children hurry for joy. They aren’t hurrying for the next moment. They are quite happy in this moment and they will be in the next moment as well. But adults, we often hurry to get the next task checked off the list, to fulfill an obligation, to get to the next thing.
This is what I love about my country drives. I take them only when I am not in a hurry. And most of the time I choose NOT to be in a hurry. Of course, there are commitments to keep, arrival times that need to be honored, events that I sincerely want to participate in (even if it’s one thing too many today or this week), but I will never hurry a country drive. I will always make the time. And I’m going to keep looking for signs. On the country roads and in life.
For reflection: What signs are you looking for? What signs have you ignored? Do you know what direction your headed? And just for fun, if you were a road sign, which one would you be?