Sunday, June 18, 2006

lewis mumford once said, the national flower of the usa should be the interstate cloverleaf...yes, we are a car-dominated society, which one notices when one tries to get around in any other way. these days i ride my bicycle out where i cross the highway, ride next to some tall grass, some low grass cattails, a little patch of wildflowers coming out a ways over. the tall grasses have always been my friend- once at a cloverleaf i just went up on the hill, looked down at the cars using the exit ramps, the relentless flow of humanity- and slept like a baby. i suppose there are some snakes and other animals in those grasses- but if you think about it, the cloverleaf puts into the wildlife ecosystem a major barrier- do not cross me- even at night, as the cars are going in every direction, all night. joliet- where 80 and 57, or 55 come together...des moines, kansas city, st. louis, where the loop roads come back into the interstates, the major junctions in the road systems. in some places the exit ramps would be cut into granite hillsides and this would make the space rugged, rocky, natural, yet still a level road with a small shoulder, lots of cars, a few snakes in the grass to the side. sometimes i would arrive at these places and change my mind about where to go next. maybe i'll go north instead of west. whole vistas would change with a single decision. sometimes it was for no real reason, sometimes there was some kind of twisted reasoning behind it.

once, i was on the indianapolis ring-road, trying to get back onto an interstate, at a cloverleaf, hitchhiking. it was gray out, cold, cloudy, early evening. a car stopped but i could tell it was not like a usual ride. in fact the woman inside was crying. i had no idea why, it clearly had nothing to do with me. and in fact she didn't intend to give me a ride, which was ok. who knows what was going on? something in her world was clearly terrible; it had fallen apart. made me think of mine- the solitude, the cold night, the diesel exhaust, the grass, the snakes, the relentless flow. i wished her well, and walked back toward the exit sign. her red lights receded behind me; she got back on the highway. i also was out of there soon enough...but i remember her, every once in a while...


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