Wherever it Wants to Go

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.

24 thoughts on “Wherever it Wants to Go”

  1. Wow. Two-dollar and seventy-cent gas. Just paid one-dollar and ninety-four cent gas here in Maine.

    1. 2.70 was the pre-pandemic price. It’s running about 1.90 around here right now. Good time to be out cruising!

  2. Thank you, Ben.

    Reflections of emptiness. A description of life as it is these days.

    I’m stranded in Las Vegas standing in front of my friend’s home. It’s much warmer today and the sun warms me. Many cars drive by as I enjoy this perfect Spring day. People walking. Every person afoot and every person in the passing cars wave. It felt great to see this as I wave back, smiling. Before the virus it wasn’t all that common to get the waves. Now, we seem to be more of a brotherhood. A bright side to this ugly coin.

    Stay safe.

  3. Hello Ben.
    I can think of one entire nation that needs the kind of balm you regularly pass out here.

    I hope you are well.and almost always certain. will

  4. Many of the farmers around are doing field work, lots of anhydrous ammonia going into the fields that will be planted in corn. Soybeans add nitrogen to the soil, while corn takes it out to the tune of at least 100 lbs. per acre. It has been warm and dry here in the heartland, but the forecast is for a winter storm with a hard freeze tonight and tomorrow. A hard freeze might mean trouble for the fruit farmers, as the apple and pecan trees have already started to bud out.

    There are few people out and about, but the grocery and big volume retailers seem to have full parking lots, despite the lack of protective masks and disregarding the 6′ separation recommendation.

    ‘Hope that you, your family, and your fiends are all well, both physically and mentally, and are weathering this thing that has had such a profound impact on all of us. A shared experience, like the terrorist attacks on 09/11/01, that may bring us together, stronger, or drive an even bigger wedge into our already deeply divided nation.

  5. Hey, Ben, I’m here and have been reading, but haven’t thought of anything that needs to be said.

    I guess I can: I enjoy your writing as always, and we’re doing well. Take care.

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