The other day I drove down to a local orange grove to purchase another bushel of Honeybell tangelos. Going to this grove is an adventure: a few miles down the interstate, a few miles down a major county road, down a paved local road for a mile, and then another half-mile down an unpaved secondary road to the grove. I made my purchases and loaded bags of wonderful fruit and fresh juice into my car.
As I pulled out of the parking lot, the unknown road beckoned me east. Even though I’ve been to this grove many times, I was curious where the road led east of the grove. I am always curious to find out where roads lead — I learn so much of an area that way. I drove 0.5 mile east and came upon a sign for a state forest, which I knew was around here but not quite sure where. I found the western entrance to the forest and proceeded to drive in along that unpaved road. In my minivan . . . some urban warrior I am, I don’t even have an SUV!
The day was overcast, breezy and warmer than usual. For the first few hundred yards I had the air conditioning on, trying to avoid the dust in the road. After a while I rolled down my window to listen to the birdsong. I don’t know whose call it was, but a few lovely avian friends flew by: a little blue heron, a great blue heron, and others whose names I don’t know. The birdsong faded away, and all that was left was the sounds of the wind in the trees. I reveled in the wind’s dialogue with the forest and the sheer stillness of the afternoon. It was tranquil and quiet, things I have lacked in my life for some time.
I finally came to a crossing in the road, beyond which the eastbound road was nearly impassable. I had been driving in my solitude for a long time and was not brave enough to venture north or south at the crossroads. So, I turned the car around and headed back westward. A great white heron flew over my head and landed in a bush a few yards from my car. As I drove closer, he got a little spooked and flew into a nearby tree. I stopped. We stared at each other for a long time, until he flew off deeper into the forest. I felt a little more peaceful. With the car pointed ever westward, I headed back towards paved roads, civilization, and home.