For the last twelve years a small tar and chip road riddled with pot holes has led to my home. This little road runs from an honest real road winding past an old Lutheran church and cemetery, between hay fields, through a tunnel of over arching tree limbs and between cow pastures before finally rejoining another real road again. It’s a genuine shortcut.
Winters on this little road can be a lot fun or a pain depending upon the vehicle you’re driving. Large snow drifts develop on the road that the daring soul with ground clearance and four wheel drive can blast through throwing snow in all directions. You’re blind while doing this as the snow quickly overwhelms your windshield wipers. Stray to the left or right and you’re into a ditch you are not getting out of or over a hill which might be disastrous for your car or truck. Like I said, it is adventure only for the daring.
The tunnel is a very narrow section with overhanging tree limbs. During the winter this section of rutted rough road can be magical. After a snow it seems like you’re on the road to the ice kingdom and are very near to the castle where the ice Lord lives. In the summer the tunnel is noticeably cooler because of the generous shade the arching tree limbs provide. When it rains and the leaves are pressed together by the weight of the water you very nearly need your headlights to navigate the darkened passageway.
Wildlife, cattle and horses live on both sides of this little road. Deer, turkey, and at least two fox cross regularly. Occasionally one may spot a black bear ambling purposefully across the road. One evening I followed a skunk for nearly half a mile! My son and I laughed heartily as it skipped Peppy Le Pew like before finding a spot it felt was safe for leaving the road. That skunk was in no hurry and I wasn’t eager to encourage or otherwise disturb it any more than we already had.
Farm tractors laden with all sorts of attachments make their way back and forth along this road. Depending upon the season they carry attachments for plowing, or raking, or bailing, or any of the seemingly infinite number of things that farmers need to do. Some of the tractors are smallish and cute while others are huge and surrounded by the high pitched whistle of their turbine driven engines. All of the tractors, big and small, mean business. They are not parading about on leisurely strolls, they are on a mission.
On July 16th, this wonderful little path will no longer lead me home. That is such an alien thought. It feels like I’ve had a long drink of a fatal poison to write such a thing. The ach in my belly feels as if it could be symptomatic of a mortal wound. Leaving this place was the best thing to do. All of my thought processes lead to a single conclusion. Take the job. Sell the house. Move.
I am consoled with the knowledge that my thoughtful wife concurs with my reasoning. Then there is the couple that bought the house. They are young and expecting their first child. The road is smooth and straight in front of our/their house. Their child, like ours will be safe riding his/her bike on it, walking it to the school bus stop, and learning to drive on it.
This is not the midlife crisis I expected. Parting with my companion of twelve years. Leaving her for paths unknown and uncharted by me. Shouldn’t I just be buying a sports car? Wasn’t skydiving invented for just such a crisis?
On July 17th the road home will lead to Korea. Where it will take me from there I cannot begin to guess. I know only that at its end is my home and there I will either live or my body will lie.