It started as a perfect Spring morning, the grass wet with dew, the air smelling of all things green and growing. Sunlight slanted through green leaves, embroidered with birdsong. I made the tours of the gardens, pulled a few weeds, stopped to listen to my friend, Mockingbird warming up for the day's concert. Taking some deep breaths I stood in gratitude for my many blessings, beauty and contentment before starting the long drive south to the city.
I went inside and gathered my things. No keys. Okay. I made the wide wander around the house, searching pockets, looking under papers, digging deep in my purse. Ah ha! Out to the car with tote and hanging clothes and then back to the house for the forgotten guitar, and once again to feed and pet the cats before leaving. They wanted me to stay. Two days, I whispered to them.
As I cruised down the red-dirt roads full of sunshine, a pair of doves flew up in front of the car. One of them thudded against the windshield. I glanced in the mirror and saw him flopping on the road. Drat. I hate that. Such loss for his mate. Deep breath in...and out. Turning onto the county blacktop I cruised toward the low place where deer often jump out unexpectedly from the woods surrounding a small, shady creek. When I topped the hill and looked down, I was shocked to see that every tree in that wood had been grubbed out and left to lie, piled in the field, naked trunks, torn branches, thrown down upon the earth, earth roots screaming into open air. The earth itself was scraped clear of all vegetation. The tiny creek looked immensely vulnerable, staggering along through bare dirt where once there had been the richness of habitat. My stomach churned at the violence of the act. My god. Another shake of the head, this time in disbelief. That farm had recently sold; someone new was at the helm.
It was seven more miles to the state highway. Flat green fields of winter wheat unfurled to my right and left below a high dome of clear, achingly blue sky. At the crossroad two miles before the small town, I noticed an oil truck rolling north along the dirt road to my right. It seemed we might reach the corner at the same time. He had the stop sign, of course.
But he didn't stop. He came barreling across the blacktop at top speed, directly in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes, throwing everything in all the seats to the floor. My seat belt held. The car stopped. I watched him drive on north; no brake lights.
There was no one on the road but me. I sat completely still, unbelieving, adrenalin soaring through my veins, my heart pounding. A gold and brown Meadowlark sang from the barbed wire fence and I looked his way. I thought of the cats, dozing on the porch swing surrounded by the scent of blooming Iris from the gardens. A Red-Tailed Hawk made a lazy circle high in air.
Turning slowly off the pavement, I headed back to the farm, windows down, driving slowly. This day, I decided, I would sit under the tall, living Elm and watch the bees dancing from flower to flower. I would stroke the cats and read a good book. Not today would I wander from this place of peace. Not today.