I had driven that road so many times that even now when I close my eyes I can feel every curve and embankment of that 65 mile journey. It comes to me at the beginning of dreams; the dream doesn’t really begin until I’m there. The return trip rarely invades my thoughts.
I begin just outside of town, on the highway headed west. West, toward the secluded mountains. The road always begins in the fall but as I come around the corner and pass an 18-wheeler before taking exit 43 the leaves disappear and the trees shroud themselves in white.
Along Bratton’s run there is snow on the ground. The trees are very dark and I am thankful for the warmth of my car and the light it creates. There are no other vehicles on the road and were it not for the occaisional deer I would wonder if the world was dead.
It is beautiful but the winter continues on and the road continues on. We creep higher into the mountains and I grow weary. There is more snow and more wildlife. The wildlife is not a comfort: the animals dart in front of me and I don’t want to hit them. The mountain continues forever, the road forever, the winter forever. I wonder what possessed me.
As I crest Warm Springs Mountain at long last there is a glorious painting in the sky over the valley, multi-coloured itself. Is it the sunrise? the sunset? to me it’s all the same. As I come down the other side of the mountain the snow begins to melt and the birds come out. I have to slow down for a logging truck, but I’m actually relieved for the company.
How long had I been driving? Who was I when I left? I always entered this new spring dazed.
How many times had I driven that road crying? How many times had I sung? I started the drive a young girl, impressionable and ready to change the world. I ended the road much more tired, but wise, somewhat jaded but ultimately a better person. And a mother.