Now that Autumn is here I am thinking about the high points of this past summer. I wrote this story about a day trip my husband and I made a few months ago.
by Jewell Susan Hershey
by Jewell Susan Hershey
This summer, Allen and I went for a drive in the country, a luxury for us now that gas prices are so high. We had driven for quite a while, chatting and drinking ice water out of our matching travel mugs, when we decided it was time to circle around and head home but by an alternate route. Allen remembered traveling through this area years ago and searched his map and the road up ahead for the way that would take us in the right direction. Not sure, we turned onto a dusty one-lane country road. It got narrower and narrower as we followed it. Allen thought we should find a wide place to turn around in but a few more yards down the road I coasted to a stop. Allen put his map in his lap. We were beside a garden with straight, full rows of healthy vegetables and flowers, no house in sight. Someone had laid flagstones beside the brook running by the garden and placed a bench there in the shade. Nearby was a little grave mound, carefully tended, with a marker made of slender, straight sticks, painted white.
"Probably a pet dog," I said. We were quiet and looked at the scene a while, our minds creating characters and plays to act on that little stage.
Allen's attention was drawn to the roadside. "Look at the wild flowers!" He said, and we shook our heads and grinned as we struggled to draw their names out of our memories.
Putting the car in low gear again, we came to an apple orchard hanging full of fruit. Some of the trees were trellised on wires. Some were old trees. Some were young, just coming into bearing. The apples were green but in some rows they were showing hints of pink, in other rows the light green that precedes golden yellow. Quiet again, we each knew the other was re-dreaming about a little orchard at home.
The heavy, warm air pushed all the air conditioning out of our open windows so we rolled them up again and moved on. I saw nothing but dust in the rear view mirror and, up ahead, only a piece of road at a time as it twisted and turned among the tall wildflowers. The little road was steep now, causing the tires to throw a few gravels back from time to time. The bumper was partway into the T intersection when I stopped at the top of the hill. I hadn't seen it coming. But there was another surprise--the Blue Ridge Mountains spread out before us, offering a new view we had never seen before. We had not met a single vehicle--truck, tractor or car--on this road so I left the car in the intersection, poised so that if it had been a glider it could have soared off the small mountain and ridden the air currents over the valley far below. Allen and I held hands across the gear shift knob, smiled at each other, then looked back at the mountains.
Time passed and we agreed, with looks and sighs and shrugs of shoulders, that it was time to go. We retraced our way, noticing details that we missed the first time, stopping for a few seconds at the apple orchard and the garden, and finally turning onto the paved road.
A mile or two down the road we clearly saw the signpost for the road we were looking for earlier. How could we miss it?
But we knew what we would have missed if we had taken it back then. It was as if the Universe had opened an invisible portal and escorted us on a private tour of a work of creation that we didn't even know existed. I don't know that we could ever find our way there again.
September 24, 2009