Saturday, June 13, 2009

Rural Delivery: Sunday Drive

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1996. All rights reserved.

A Sunday Drive usually begins after breakfast, but before lunch, and often just after church when the sun is still laying shadows across the fields. It can happen unexpectedly, like one of those soft summer showers that seem to emerge magically from a clear sky, or it can be a planned outing with a picnic carefully packed in the trunk.

Sometimes whole families will take a Sunday Drive, just like they used to back when gas was cheap and travel was recreation. More often, though, it's just a couple or a lone driver who decide for no particular reason to go wandering.

You see these folks driving station wagons and pickups and even little red sportscars. They keep to the backroads and country lanes, mostly, where traffic is thin and tempers calm. They travel slower than normal and may stop suddenly.

Folks on a Sunday Drive count livestock, assess crop conditions and take notice of wildflowers. They pause for rainbows, old weathered barns and small animals crossing the road. And they're likely to stop at any yard sale, flea market or roadside fruit stand

You'll know these folks by their sun-bronzed forearms resting atop drawn-down windows and their willingness to wave at passersby. Sometimes they'll be stopped side by side in the middle of the road facing opposite directions and jawing at each other across the center line.

Most Sunday Drives have no map or destination to guide their course. They begin on a whim and follow chance more than design. Someone says, "What's down that road?" and a new track is taken.

If you plan your route or plot the direction of your travel then you are preparing for a tour, not a Sunday Drive.

How can you set a course for coincidence? Who can schedule the trill of a meadowlark on a warm breeze through an open window? What guidebook shows the way to wild huckleberries in the wayside or a flock of sandhill cranes on a meadow? Can you plan for the cast of sunshine across the land or the chance meeting of an old friend along the way?

Despite its name, a Sunday Drive can happen any day of the week and in any season of the year. Some even occur at night, especially when the moon is full and the crickets are singing. The only requirements are a vehicle, a calm hand at the wheel and a thirst for adventure.

"...light-hearted I take to the open road," wrote a wandering Walt Whitman setting forth on a 19th century equivalent of a Sunday Drive.
"Healthy, free, the world before me,
"The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose."

No comments: