Signs of life / by Christina Rosalie

Riding 33.2 miles per hour on a back country road does something for your soul. It makes you grin, for one. It makes your hair, pulled back in messy braids yank like kite strings in the wind. Being that close to the pavement you see things differently. No, you feel them. The fragrance from every newly blooming roadside flower hits you like a cloud blossoms: magnolias, cherry, daffodils in front of every farm house the color of breakfast: scrambled eggs and pale yellow butter.

Where the sun has been the longest the heat lifts off the road embracing your calves and thighs and bare arms with sudden softness and warmth; and in the shady pockets where the road dips down, the cold air comes at you like something from a dream.

You see things: beaver ponds abundant with newly chewed logs and saplings. Geese with long black legs and wide feet, paired off, nesting. Turkey buzzards with wings as wide as your arms, their shadows quick and black across the road. New lambs, some just days old, their knees knobby, their ears swivling at the whir of your wheels as you ride by. A bearskin tacked to the side of a woodshed; two women sitting on lawn chairs smoking cigarettes, their pale legs bare and almost glowing in the late afternoon son.

This is what happens when you stop holding so fiercely to what you must do: the world gets all up in your face with its green and manure and potholes, and it’s utterly glorious.

For 26 miles the only thing you think about is whatever is right in front of you: every pebble, sharp curve, rut, and roadside marsh. You see a blue egret on one leg; a swarm of insets illuminated in the mossy golden light; a hairy brown goat let loose to wander in front of a barn; a barefoot teenage boy with shoulder length hair walking up to the open door of a grey log house.

You feel only this: the way your body does this thing nearly effortlessly in concert with this sleek machine; improbably balancing, moving fast, faster, until it’s only an intuitive, kinetic and immediate, and not a thinking thing at all. And when you return, the world is closer and newer, and you are more of it, than apart from it. Yes.