An artist's musings......Driving the Night Road
(by M Theresa Brown)
I am one of the last to leave the parking lot after the night class I teach. I wait in my car until the taillights of my final student pulls away and I follow.
Soon I am on the back roads home. If I am lucky, I won't have any traffic behind me and I can wander the 18 miles home more slowly. I've made the trip often, and in all weather conditions. It's the warmer nights I love. With my windows down I can hear the night. Driving a leisurely speed, I can see the night.
I pass rural houses, the lights of a home life filtering through open curtains. An occasional glow of a TV flickering in a den. Outdoor lights peep through the woods in homes set back off the road. People's homes. A family. Their night time sanctuaries.
Part of my journey takes me by several churches. As I approach the stop sign by one of them I cannot help but notice that some of the graves in the cemetery have little solar lights. It's a nice thought I think. Someone wanting their loved one to have a nightlight. Like a little earth bound star in the night.
Directly across the intersection is yet another church and I wonder, not for the first time, how these churches in the country fill their pews. I always check out the the little white house next to the two churches. It's a non-assuming small white clapboard when I drive by it during the day. But on many of the nights that I pass it going home, it is transformed into something entirely different with its red light glowing on the front porch.
I ponder this anomaly of a mini red light district between two churches. It is easy to wonder all sorts of random thoughts. Is she open all night? Do people just stop by? Does she close shop at daybreak? Is she open on Sundays? I roll these questions in my mind, never coming up with an answer, as I leave the little intersection behind and travel on in the dark.
|My attempt to photograph with my phone:-)|
My headlights show pastures and fences and I scan the edges of the road for the ever present possibility of deer or a waddling possum. The traveling lights toss the shadows of trees into patterns that dance along the edge of the road as I drive. It's an interesting thought, bringing my own shadow with me and my mind wanders off into memories of shadow making.
I drive quietly. No radio, no music. I like to listen to the wind. As I approach the river, the incredibly loud chorus of tree frogs in the swamps signals my approaching turn. Some nights, when I turn onto this short section of dirt road I often stop. Listening to the tree frogs without the dopplar effect that comes with driving past is ear opening; Nature's surround sound. I love this section. The night holds no fear for me. My headlights might flush a rabbit or two on this dirt road. I might hear a dog bark far in the distance. More than once when I paused I have turned off my headlights to see the stars, brilliant on a clear night with no ambient light. It is an isolated section of road and it is easy to imagine Big Foot coming out of the pine forests. The thought makes me smile as my imagination wanders off again, this time into Big Foot territory.
My tires thump back onto the paved section of the road and I slowly make my way home. Past more homes, more shadows, more stars. Daylight shows me the details of what I only glimpse at night. But it is within my Night Drive circle of light that my senses fill, bringing a certain peace and focus at the end of the day.