Driving north on the two lane highway, running 45 mph, I down shifted the truck, put my blinker on while lowering the drivers window, and stuck my arm out signaling a left turn. I looked with trepidation into my rear view mirror and saw the nose of the Honda on my butt dip below my tailgate, the eyes of the young man driving got wide and came closer to the windshield. I hate a tailgater, I was running the speed limit too. I saw him consider passing me, dipping left just a bit, but there were cars speeding towards us in the oncoming lane. “That is why I’m stopping, you doofass, cars are coming.” I muttered. Forced to come to a complete stop due to oncoming traffic, the line of cars behind me began to stack up. When I had a chance, I punched it, darting behind a quick car and before a school bus rumbled by, timing it so the bus driver did not have to brake.
Safely off the two lane and on the muddy farm road I pulled to a complete stop right before the first real mud puddle. I got out and Coker jumped out right on my heels. I looked at the milk chocolate mud puddle and decided I did not want the goo on my wheels and figured I would just walk the rest of the way. I looked across the open space of the wheat field, now just sprouting, and noticed what a lovely spring day it was turning out to be.
Coker stuck his nose in the puddle and took a drink. “Quit Coke, damn.” He looked at me with a chocolate mustache and drank a little more, then trotted off smelling a clump of grass before taking a quick pee on it. He is a Parson Russell Terrier mix, basically a huge Jack Russell. He loves to ride in the truck and walk most any terrain with me. He was nose to the ground smelling for field mice I am sure.
I walked around the mud puddle knowing it was a deep one. I remembered the tadpoles that had hatched out last year, mono-limbed like sperm and looking for purchase. One day I asked my cousin why he wouldn’t fix this old problem of the puddle with his tractor. It wouldn’t take an hour. He said it cuts down on those that should not be over here, and the speed of those that should. Speed I thought. He was on to something there.
Coker was well ahead of me now. I walked slowly, heading aimlessly across the wheat field, leaving the black top well behind. The Honda long gone now replaced by more traffic speeding unimpeded. Where are they all going? I thought. Away from here, that is clear. I lumbered along the muddy roadside, more of a path to the back of the field. I was heading towards the tree line where the campsite was.
I noticed a red shouldered hawk watching me from a high branch of a yellow pine near the edge of the field. Both eyes forward, piercing the light between us. He was sizing me up maybe, watching to see if I might make a field mouse run. Or it could be he was judging Cokers weight, deciding if he was worth it. As I looked at him, and continued walking towards him, he collapsed from the limb and with out urgency moved south, down the edge of the old grass runway until he flared and came to rest on a limb of a White Oak. I love a bird of prey.
Coke and I kept walking, heading towards the woods. If we are always going somewhere, we will never get there will we? Nor will we value where we are. I thought of the young man in the Honda. If heaven is elsewhere then this place is no matter.
The small muddy farm trail had petered out at the tree line. The path to the campsite lay ahead.