I live on a country road. I once prepared a photo essay about this road for submission to a magazine because, to me, it represents a great deal of the beauty to be found in Lehigh County, all on one and a half miles of narrow, curving asphalt. One can find woods and farm land and history, the latter embodied in a one-room schoolhouse, a more than two-hundred year old mill, a structure from the eighteen hundreds that housed a little general store for many years, several more homes that date back to this country’s beginnings, as well as some truly magnificent trees that have been here through it all. There once existed an ice dam, damming up the Hosensack to flood the small valley. Ice blocks would be cut from it in the winter and shipped on railroad cars to the city. It is rumored part of that dam is on my property, and I believe I have glimpsed its shape beneath the undergrowth in the wooded section. One day I suppose I will take a shovel and explore the possibilities, but I’ve always been content, somehow, in leaving the history at peace.
Wildflowers grow naturally along the shoulder-less road. Mailboxes line one side for the rural delivery. In the growing season, corn tassels wave in the sun, heaps of soybeans cover the earth. Creatures such as deer, wild turkeys, coyote, foxes, hawks and vultures and owls are sighted regularly. Domestic animals are raised in lesser quantities on gentle pasturage. A little side street with an older community ending in a cul-de-sac exists to one side, but the rest is as it’s been for a very long time. Even my home has been here since the middle of the past century and feels like part of the history.
Recently, though, the next road over had to be closed for emergency bridge repairs. Being an emergency, there was no notice and no contingency plan for the traffic that travels along that wider road with its painted lines, straighter runs and somewhat greater speed limit.
Need I say more? Probably not, but I will. Drivers used to the convenience of that other road with its straighter runs and painted lines and somewhat greater speed limit have taken to using this road without any adjustment in attitude or consciousness to the fact they are NOT traveling that other road to which they have become so comfortably accustomed.
Those rural mailboxes I previously mentioned? Crossing the street to retrieve the mail has become a hair-raising endeavor. Fortunately, on this whole stretch, there are only three of us who actually have to do so. Everyone else lives on the mailbox side of the road.
As to daily constitutionals for health and enjoyment? Well, my neighbor has resorted to driving over to the closed road in order to walk safely now. I am not sure what the others are doing. I walk in the yard.
The noise prevents me from recording my podcast, because the room from which I do it is only about twenty-five feet from what was once a quiet country road, and the increased number of vehicles passing by at well over the speed limit can be heard in the background. I tried to record between vehicles in my last podcast. If one listens carefully, you can hear the rush to finish sentences before the car I hear coming gets close enough to become part of the soundtrack. I’m giving it another try, though, and hoping for the best.
As I have said, the road is narrow and possesses more than one blind curve. It has a posted speed limit of twenty-five miles per hour for justifiable reasons. There are occasional drop-offs that could come as a nasty surprise to drivers careening their vehicles past each other in opposite directions at speeds that are not only unnecessary but unsafe. And really, don’t get me started on those idiots staring down at their cell phones while they maneuver speeding hunks of metal. Yes, I’ve seen them, now that I have to wait for an extended period before I can cross the road to get my mail.
This all sounds very disheartening, I’m sure, but I have confidence that—eventually—the bridge on the other road will be repaired (although there is no timeframe to be had from the authorities) and that quiet will once again reign on this lovely stretch of road epitomizing Lehigh County’s natural beauty and wondrous history.
Not holding my breath, though. But I am eyeballing the chain saw and some strategically located trees that might need a little pruning. Can you say roadblock?