On a recent road trip on US Highways and rural roads:
There is a leveling of land from the western Piedmont to the Coastal Plain, with accompanying other changes in topography, including types and colors of soil and type of forests. In the Piedmont, dairy farms and hardwood trees; on the coastal plain, cotton fields and pine trees. Red clay soil changes to sandy soil.
There is much cotton to be picked east of Roanoke Rapids, NC, and into Wakefield, VA. That which has been harvested has been rolled into head-high round bales with red covers, a red and white signature in the now barren field. There are fallow fields and fields waiting to be cleared.
On the outskirts of a small town a man leans on his rake as he watches a pile of burning leaves. The smell brings a memory of childhood in autumn in a small eastern North Carolina town.
On a rural road in Virginia, a farm machine taking most of the road causes the three or four cars behind it to move at 15 miles per hour for several miles of curvy roads. Passing is thus illegal and dangerous. When it reaches a place suitable for passing, the operator of the machine stops and motions in a big sweeping motion that it is finally safe to pass.
I stop at a fast food place at noon in a small town in northeastern North Carolina. Four silver-haired women are meeting for lunch there. One of them says to the others, “America may need a woman president, but I don’t think Mrs. Clinton is the one to have.” I did not want to hear why she thought so, and I was glad their conversation changed quickly to the weather, how warm it is for October, talk easier to tune out.
There is leaf fall onto the highways and roads, and buzzards circle low and sweep into fields and woods.
There are smells of wood smoke, pine woods, manure, and the fresh smell from a saw mill.
The land of Nat Turner’s insurrection is unrelentingly flat farmland, bound by pine forests. Fields there now lie fallow. There are ponds and ditches. A woman hangs clothes on an extensive set of lines in the side and back yards of her small farmhouse with dirt yard.
It is fun to see fields and forests and towns and cemeteries and churches and lakes, to cross small rivers on small and narrow bridges.
There are large, stately houses on farms and in towns. Some have Corinthian columns and turrets. Most are well-kept. In the country there are occasionally run-down or deserted small farm houses; occasionally on the outskirts of towns are trailer parks. Towns often show distinctive personality, with parks, local schools, historical markers, and schools along the town route.
I do not miss the lack of scenery, speed, boredom, heavy traffic, trucks, and signs for services and lodging at interstate exits. The trip, though longer than the interstate route, was more relaxing and enjoyable.
Writer’s Holiday. I will not post a blog next Wednesday, November 9. I plan to resume on Wednesday, November 16. Enjoy the fall!