Seeing Through the Trees

gray and yellow road between forest
Photo by Ashley on
I miss Saturday road trips in my old car. A stick-shift silver Volvo, with cracked leather seats and a busted overdrive. Nothin' better than Paul Simon, a packed lunch and a book, noon-bound for China Beach. The twisted, turning roads, listening to "Diamonds On the Soles of Her Shoes," full blast. I'd sing and drive and remind myself that there was always the road, always the future. That was freedom to me, all that singing and driving, all that forgetting of trial and tribulation. Trees along the roadside brushed away my woes, heard every prayer, and escorted me to better times. The beach did its good work too. With shoes off, I'd journey the seashore and visit the vast and intricate worlds of sand, rock, and water. Those were good days. The days of freckles and windswept hair. What I didn't see all those years ago, was the thing happening beyond the roadside trees, what was filtering down to the beaches through run-off streams. Maybe if I'd stopped to look past my own nose, I'd have seen through the trees. If I hadn't been driving and singing and struggling maybe I'd have heard the metal machines, the saws and chippers, the sound of greed. Back then, beyond the roadside, past the deceptive veil of ever-thinning trees, before I was a wife, before I was a mother, there was a mounting slaughter happening just out of site. Now, an electric car replaces my gas-guzzler, a car filled with the joyousness of family, a dog, still, Paul Simon. Now, in full view, all along the roadside is slash and burn, heaped piles of smoke and steam, a valley shredded and chipped, a mountainside in ruin. Now, a veil lifted, I don't want to drive anymore. It's getting even harder to sing.

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