In the new snow I drive the truck off the mountain and over 20 miles of back roads to our friends’ wood shop to pick up a load of sawdust for the cows’ bedding. The snow is unwelcome but not unbeautiful, it swirls and darts in the air as I drive, and the colors of everything I can see through and beyond the falling snow seem brighter and full of promise. The road is less rutted than usual for this time of year, surely due to the reduction in traffic. The small town I drive through is eerily quiet, businesses shuttered, the coffee shop displaying hopeful signage advertising take out espresso and pastries. There are four cars parked along Main Street where usually there might be a couple dozen.
I haven’t driven much of late, and it’s nice to be out, to be moving at such speed. Climbing the hill on the far side of the quiet town, the snow still bearing down, I push the gas pedal to the floor, then slow again to turn onto another back road, where I soon pass two men skinning a pig. The pig is laying in a small utility trailer, and I might not know what it is but for the hind trotters hanging out the back. The snow under the trailer is rich with blood. The men are bent to the task.
I load the sawdust, tarp it down, and head back the way I came, driving more slowly now, in no hurry at all, feeling like I could drive forever and ever on these little-travelled roads, like maybe they’ll eventually take me somewhere – anywhere – that remains unaffected, all hustle and bustle and bare faces, handshakes and hugs and slaps on the back. I’ll stop for pizza and beer. For ice cream and avocados. I’ll fill the truck with two-dollar and seventy-cent gas and pay the damn $60 and not even complain.
I pass the men, still going at the dead pig, and soon after, roll back through town. Only three cars now. I watch the truck’s reflection in the darkened shop windows; the windows of the truck reflect the reflection of the truck in the shop windows, and I can’t see myself in the driver’s seat. It’s like the truck is driving itself. It’s like I could just take my hands off wheel and let the truck take me wherever it wants to go.