Old country roads are magic to me

I walked 14 miles of silent back road Sunday

I didn’t intend to walk that far but the road kept whispering, further

I’ve always been drawn to country roads

As a teenagers, we drove the graveled web that stitched together farmhouses sprinkled over hollers, hills and river bottoms where I grew up

Either in my best friend’s Old’s 88 or my totaled out Buick with a bumper sticker that read, “Don’t laugh, Mister, your daughter might be in here.”046f6434d5883fff01f30e8fad5dc98d

Rickety plank bridges from times when pickups were slower and smaller

We ran them big and fast with a thunk that probably should have scared us, but we had no regard for safety, dry rot, or poor aim

At each crossroad, for fun we flipped a coin, leaving it to heads, the devil and lukewarm beer how lost we could get

So many corn, soybean and hay fields they came to be something I barely noticed but would later miss

My friends argued over whether John Deere or International made a better tractor; some outlier always made a case for Case

As a town kid I had no opinion other than that I liked the color red

In later years, in more pensive moments, I headed back home

Turned off the blacktop, appreciating nostalgic detail

Cicadas screeching, heat heavy like wet cheese cloth and manic June bugs bouncing around off their meds

Turning off the headlights, driving by moonlight, glancing at the cooler of beer in the back seat

Gravel popped under my tires as I rolled to a stop.

The dust cloud I had kicked up overwhelmed my car like a Dust Bowl storm

Filling my front seat and my lungs; I laughed through the coughing, I had never learned to roll up the window

Backing off the road snug against a farmer’s gate cinched shut with rusty wire

The smell of rain in the air, the most beautiful scent in the world

Slipping in the Patsy Cline CD that I’d saved for this moment, I listened with my chest, my bones

Patsy wrings emotion out of a lyric like an old pioneer woman finishing up laundry by a river

Patsy and Hank Williams and scratchy old songs are what truly make country roads magic to me

I imagine people listening to them on dates when those old records were new

When pickups were slower

And the old bridges fit

When they poured beer from buckets

And country roads were just called roads

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