When I say “country rush hour” I’m not talking about having to wait for chickens and ducks to cross the road. I’m talking about walking the hilly country roads where I live between the hours of 4pm and 6pm. Blind hills, no posted speed limits and sweeping curves all traveled by people in their pickup trucks, SUVs and cars. It isn’t a constant flow of traffic by any means, perhaps a couple cars within a span of 5 minutes. Jazzmin and I walk in the road as much as possible but when a car is coming we move over into the rocky ditch as best we can.
The blind hills are the scariest areas to walk and I’m always listening for cars and walking as far over in the ditch as possible. Drivers don’t expect to see a woman and her dog walking on these roads and as they’re going 55 mph and over, there’s not much time for them to react. So I’m always attentive and prepared for what might be coming speeding over the next hill.
Tonight’s rush hour walk was almost surreal in how unusual it was. The farmers are all cutting their hay in the fields surrounding me so Jazz and I encountered a baler and forklift tooling down the road. Then as we were walking by a field already stacked with bales, a huge flatbed tractor-trailer slowed down to pull over and retrieve the stack we were near. There wasn’t much shoulder between us and the truck but we hustled quickly out of his way.
We continued up the slight hill and just as we neared the crest, a tree in the distance went crashing down and disappeared from the horizon. That’s when the sound of a chainsaw reached my ears and I realized someone was doing a bit of “lawn maintenance.” We reached the yard of trees just as another one was cut down and the rush of noise it created hitting the ground startled Jazz. The trees appeared to be cottonwoods so I understood somewhat why they were removing them.
Descending that small hill we came upon a recently repaired area of the road. They’ve been working on bridge maintenance recently and they’d obviously just repaired the under-road tunnel one of the area streams flows through.
Beyond the repaired bridge and noise of the chainsaws, I heard the caws of crows in the sky and looked up to find them circling for some reason. Perhaps they were disturbed by the chainsaws or some other predator in the woods but their calls were eerie and sped us faster toward the next hill. The next hill happened to be what I call “The Big Hill” because it’s the steepest one we climb. There’s an old schoolhouse set upon it with a graveyard way back in the trees and walking up it always tires Jazzmin and I out. Once we reach the top the view of the surrounding hills is quite lovely and it’s as if we’ve ascended to another world.
We walked the flat road at the top of the hill for a bit before turning around and heading home. Walking down that hill is much easier than up and I love looking across the hills, trees and farmland surrounding us. There was brief respite from the cars at that point and I was able to enjoy the songs of the blackbirds, sparrows and robins in the trees. On our way back I stopped to peer down over the cliff and into the gully that’s home to another section of the stream. It’s so green and lush now that the water is no longer visible and it looked like a jungle among farmland.
There’s really no such thing as “quiet evening walk” where I live, even as remote as it is. There’s always something to see, some peril to avoid and undeniable exercise to be had. Jazzmin was suitably tired when we got home and remained that way for a good half hour before appearing eager to walk again. I don’t share her endless energy so she’ll have to wait until tomorrow when the road is new to us once more.