If you ask me what are my top ten favorite things to do I will probably list, near the top, riding around in a car. Sitting there in the front, passenger seat of a car, I have very few concerns. There is little that I can do besides relax and enjoy myself. you may remind me that I could be working on my laptop computer or making some necessary phone calls and yes I sometimes do those things, but not for long. Usually I give in to the moment and enjoy my view of the world flashing past my window.
There are some necessary preconditions to this joy, one being the presence of two-lane roads. Appalachia is the perfect place for this. With its tree-covered hills and hollows, it is perfectly suited to two-lane roads which give easy access to the small farms and land plots that dot the narrow valleys and creek bottoms.
Looking out the window I see not only the present, but also the past. In my mind's eye I see the early settlers who were among the first to appreciate the beauty of these aged, worn mountains that are anything but gentle. This is an area were the future comes slowly and the past is hard forgotten.
I see buildings that remain from the past, still put to good use. Buildings such as a church originally built by the ambitious Presbyterians who first settled an area then changed to a Methodist place of worship and now home to an independent denomination still keeping up God's house.
Or a corn crib built from logs hewn by hand from local trees, patiently waiting to be filled as soon as the nearby field of corn is picked.
Hard-working people from all over the world came here and built homes where their families still work the land.
though in many cases children have found the land to no longer be fertile or not suited to farming with modern machinery, or perhaps they just don't have a knack for living off the land. Modern times have pulled people to towns and cities where life doesn't so closely depend upon the amount of rainfall.
Sometimes the family home is deserted so that a family can move into a home less expensive to heat, with new plumbing and electrical work.
From my car seat I see these places and I imagine dreams and fears of the people who live in the homes that pass by my window, thinking of my own hopes and dreams.
When I see a road, I imagine where it leads, my mind traveling with it around a bend, across a creek into my own past and future.
Together with him driving, Jeff and I see these things and make plans in response to a building that inspires us or we remember trips we have made in the past. Were we here before or was it merely a place that looked the same?
Sometimes I see a crow gently flying over a ridge and my gut wrenches wishing I could be up there alongside it as it passes over the next hill, into the next valley, above the trees, seeing the tops of maples, oaks, ash and pine.
I realize I have let my mind escape too far. I take a breath and bring myself back to earth, back to the passenger seat where, for now, I am content.
My house still needs cleaned, there are still calls to make, but not now . . .later
Now, I have places to see.