Thursday, April 24, 2014

Driving Me Sane

Little A.’s school is about ten miles from our house. One road takes us nearly all the way and it’s really a lovely stretch of road. Sure, we pass some fast food and the highway at first, but then it’s miles of one lane each way as the road cruises past older, settled neighborhoods, farms, the Sarasota National Cemetery, and Myakka State Park.

It reminds me a little of the country roads I drove growing up. I doubt if anything is actually as laidback as those roads anymore—it seemed like we used to wait to pull out if we even saw another car on the road, anywhere. But this road has a good vibe—the speed limit’s fifty-five, not many vehicles pull on or off, and the nature’s wild!

Yesterday on the way home from school, we had a young alligator and a bounding doe both cross the road in front of us. They crossed in opposite directions, so who knows what that means. But they, and many of their cohorts, provide much to meditate on as I drive out by myself or much to discuss as I drive back with Little A.

One week we witnessed a flock of vultures slowly dismantling a wild pig carcass. The most astonishing moment came when a vulture took off, flying low across the road, only to meet the grill of an oversized pickup truck driving the opposite direction. The newly deceased vulture fell into the road, much to the fascination of the birds he had been feasting with moments before.

They gave him a look exactly like the seagulls in Finding Nemo. “Mine? Mine?”

Food for thought, right there.

Lately, we’ve been watching a patch of forest reacting to a controlled burn a few weeks ago. The park rangers seem to have done an excellent job imitating the mild lightning fires that maintained Florida’s forest naturally, before the advent of man. The dead leaves and underbrush burned, but the pines, oaks, and palmettos are only scorched. Green shoots have sprouted on the forest floor and we know the trees will follow suit soon with new leaves and needles. It’s magical to watch it unfold.

More than that, the peaceful drive—so unlike fighting traffic and watching lights in town—gives me mandatory down time. The act of driving can free the mind under those conditions, so I take pleasure in my fifteen minute moving meditation each afternoon.

It’s a pain to have the kids in two schools with wildly different schedules and the road is changing—they’re building a new development right now and there’s a “Proposed Land Use Change” sign up along another section.

But for today, for now, for this moment, the road to school grounds me. It brings me peace. It’s driving me sane.

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