Thursday, September 8, 2011

Comin' On Dark...

My daily commute is toward the sun at both ends of the day. This is not a bad thing but twice a year the sun rises in line with about a mile stretch of interstate in Topeka, blinding the worker bees droning toward work. Traffic slams to a halt and then the twin reflective steaming lines creep around the long curve. This is a problem for about two weeks each season. Otherwise, the commute into the eastern sky, a grand work of living art, is worth the grind.

The evenings are different. From the last hill leaving Topeka, I catch a glimpse of Buffalo Mound twenty miles to the west and that means I am going home and that makes me happy. The view expands in all directions then but it is not beautiful. The prairie is carved up, fenced in, built upon and entirely subjugated. No untouched prairie remains close to Topeka. Black blighted acres glower in the landscape where the red cedars have entirely claimed the land. They crowd every fence line waiting their final triumphal march over the dying tall grass. I wish the State of Kansas would declare war on this raging infection of trees.

A few more miles to the west and what is left of the prairie rises around in the comely shapes of Flint Hills, their slopes and folds as graceful as a woman's body, and I am always glad to turn off the interstate for the dusty ride toward home. Earlier this week, a pair of spotted fawns were in the road, so young that they did not know to run from the car. They stood watching as I slowed to a stop. I was content to watch them as long as they remained in the road, but a car coming the other way honked them impatiently out of the way. Is anyone's life so damned important that a couple of minutes is just too much of a personal sacrifice? It should cost $500 every time some jerk uses his car horn. (We have the technology!) It would pay down our national debt in no time and every living creature, including me, could live in serenity.

Last night I drove home toward a glowing gold and crimson shoreline of clouds in the horizon. Astride her broomstick in a snarl of clouds the Wicked Witch of the West was sailing south. I wished for my camera! She was perfect. Slowly, the point of her hat blew away and her long skirts split and then Scarecrow was dancing on the yellow brick road. You never know what magic you will see when it is comin' on dark.

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