Monday, July 18, 2005

Discovered Roads: Sunday Drive-Abouts

I might have been seven or eight years old – maybe ten – when I first learned to enjoy Sunday afternoon drive-abouts with my dad. The goal was to discover a road we’d never been on before and take a drive down that way just to see what might be there. A old farm house, a herd of animals like we’d never seen before, an unusual stand of trees, a fox on the run, a graveyard history, a clever mailbox … discovery was the whole point and only purpose. Windows of the black Ford Galaxy four-door were always rolled down, and the pace of the drive was more a lazy stroll than one of direction or destination. Dad rested one elbow out the window – the rolled cuffs of his white pressed shirt playing with the breeze, and with the other hand resting lazy at the bottom of the wheel, guided the car as if magically. Conversation only lightly punctuated the passing hours of seeing together: there wasn’t much call for talking.

I took a Sunday afternoon drive-about last weekend and wandered across the very top of Minnesota, winding along with the Rainy River in marking the Canadian border. It was one of those perfect days for an afternoon drive. MN Hwy 11 wove through miles and miles of trees giving place only on occasion to any indication that people actually inhabited this land. From time to time a view of the river, sometimes just a stone’s throw away, broke through the monotone of pine trees to lay out a breathtaking view. It was in one of those patches of drive where the road pulled away from the river’s path, however, that I discovered the symphony of steel you see pictured below. There in the middle of a northern Minnesota “nowhere” stood a circle of composed musical instruments, situated as if in a conversation with one another, a conversation that would have been easy to miss if one had been in too much of a hurry. There was no sign of “an owner” for miles in any direction - as if the work declared itself and the music a property of the land. I stopped there because I could, and I listened because there was time to listen. Lucky me for the day and for the learning I’d done at my father’s side to discover a road less traveled.

2 comments:

Kat said...

Today I found this other blog of yours and was so struck by the story of you and your Dad. I am a believer of taking any road and am glad to hear that you too are one. The only caveat is do not attempt this in Rhode Island. It seems every road deadends at the ocean.

Kat said...

P.S. I told Keith, who cuts my lawn, to watch out for the sunflowers growing beneath the feeder. He said he knew exactly what they looked like so mine were safe. When he left, I looked. Not a sunflowere remained.