Monday, October 15, 2007

That Special Feeling You Get (When You Think You're Gonna Die...)

Among my favorite parts of my day is the drive to work. It’s about 20 miles from my house to the school where I work. I drive over Stoney Ridge on Rt. 16, through Horsepen, over Gary 14 Mountain, through the community of Skygusty and come out at the Blackwolf golf course – a nine hole course in the crevices between some ridges here. At Blackwolf I turn right and drive to the four miles through Pageton to the City of Anawalt.

It’s a beautiful drive. Turkeys and deer line the twisty, narrow roads. The leaves are changing at the moment so there are lots of colors. Often the roads are shrouded in mist or fog. And there are spots that would be marked as scenic overlooks if I was on an interstate highway.

Time to make another pot...For reasons unbeknownst to me, Tazewell County has decided to scatter gravel on state road 644 around Horsepen. It’s a bit like driving on marbles at the moment. It reminds me of walking on wet floors in cowboy boots, or perhaps roller skating for the first time.

This morning I got to experience that special feeling you get when you are surprised by something and you think the possibility exists that death in eminent. It’s a brief but acute feeling that people often experience on small roads with the ass end of their car tries to pass the nose of their car. Your muscles tighten up from your waist to your collarbones, your throat constricts, your teeth clench, and your breakfast tries to crawl up your throat because it doesn’t want to die with you.

In the very brief moment involved, you be trying to remember when the last time that you went to confession was. Then you remember stuff about driving…

“Steer into it, steer into it. The more you brake the harder it is to steer. Steer into it… Hail Mary, full of grace… Steer into it…”

Okay, I’m not really a Catholic.

I got the car arranged correctly again on the road and continued toward work. For whatever reason, the coal trucks hadn’t started to run yet this morning, so I didn’t have to compete with them. There’s a mile stretch where the road to work bisects an active strip mine, but it was quiet today.

I passed three turkeys on the side of the road near Skygusty, their beards almost dragging the ground. Then came the little white dog with one black eye looks like he fell out of “Little Rascals.”

A squirrel tried to commit hari-kari on the undercarriage of my explorer as I was entering Pageton. I’d decided long ago that I would not roll my explorer to save a squirrel, but today this one escaped harm.

I got to work at about 8:15 with Kenny Chesney playing on my CD player and the windows down so I could feel the cool air…

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