Betty Duffy

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fly-over State

I drove my dad’s truck yesterday. It’s a Nissan Titan, sits up high off the road and drives like a tank. Superior and protected, I felt a sense of benevolence towards a hitchhiker on the exit ramp, so that, had I not a couple kids in the backseat, I might have been tempted to give the guy a lift. I see why hitchhiking is the territory of truck-drivers, not only because of their heavy occupancy of the road, but because of the confidence supplied by the vehicles they drive. I feel vulnerable in a mini-van, such a feminine car, so often packed with precious cargo.

My husband told me about a pick-up he followed into work one day this winter when the roads were icy. The truck slipped on the ice, did a complete 360, then kept on driving at 70 mph without missing a beat. I know they’re controversial, but I think the guy deserves to hang some rubber nuts on his bumper.

It’s too bad the English Language doesn’t specify a gender for nouns. Because of my rural location, and because I’m the mother of many boys, my world is heavily populated by masculine nouns. I’ve grown to love it: le truck, le dirt, le dog, le State of Indiana.

I started to make a Lenten resolution to wear all those fancy clothes in my closet—to quit waiting for an opportunity to dress up, and put on my best for my family. It lasted a week, until the snow melted and the dogs and kids kept the front door swinging open and shut, each entry supplying a new load of mud to clean up. Kids and dogs pawing at my waist to be patted or held—life is messy and good and absolutely excludes high heels.

I was on a plane last week, flying from Florida to Indiana. I’d spent the weekend with my girlfriends at a friend’s parents’ condo in a gated community with pristine landscaping, hot tubs, swimming pools, palm trees and evergreens, all of which have their own charm. But I didn’t realize how much I craved a more spontaneous landscape until our plane descended on the Midwest, and I could see the rivers had not been excavated and redirected where man wanted them to go. Acres of deciduous trees broke up the squares of farmland, where from the sky, I could trace the hairpins made in the dirt by tractor wheels. Why the fly-over state? Thank God, this is the State I fly-to.

I love home, even though those vacant acres were still white with snow on the first of March. Yesterday, when the thermometer hit 60 degrees, my three-year-old said, “Poor little snow, it’s melting.” I wanted to tell him not to exhale yet, as he will probably see snow again before the end of March. The weather here is like that—have detachment.

And I’m not exhaling yet, but after our third sunny day in a row, it’s tempting to think of winter in hindsight, and though this year’s snowy season was long and brutal, my gosh, it was gorgeous.


Rebekka said...

Wow, those trees are beautiful!

Emily J. said...

You are making me homesick.

Sheila said...

I grew up in Florida and scorned those Midwestern vowel states (my term for them instead of fly-overs).

And then I fell in love with a Hoosier and married him and now I've been here almost 8 years, and I know just how lucky I am to live in this great and beautiful state. Thanks for reminding me.