–Wherever you live, find your Rabbit Lane.–
(Photo credit: Jeanette Baker Davis)
Christmas day. A warm south wind had begun to howl in the early morning hours, the kind of wind that tears off siding and rips at shingles. A particular set of vulnerable shingles had flapped irritatingly above my bed all night long, as if under the sticks of a novice but indefatigable drummer. All day long the wind had blown, with frequent gusts that shook the house and trembled the floor under my chair. The bird feeders swung wildly on their wires, like marionettes under the hand of a demented puppeteer. We knew the pattern: the wind would blow and blow until the climactic dissonance resolved in a downpour of driving rain or sleet or snow. At 9:00 o’clock in the evening, Angie called us to where she stood by the front door opened wide to a world covered with new whiteness. The south wind had stopped, replaced by a steady northern breeze bringing the snow from over the lake. Brian, home from his first semester of college, announced happily that he was going for a walk. He bounded away with enthusiasm. Continue reading
–Rabbit Lane is a short nothing of a dirt road in Erda, USA.–
The air was crisp but warmer than a typical January day. The sky hung gray, and pockets of darker clouds dropped round, soft pellets of dry snow. Shades of orange accented the western mountaintops. Feathers of unseen House Swallows rustled from inside Wild Rose and Willow bushes. The scene made for an idyllic late Sunday afternoon walk on Rabbit Lane. Idyllic and peaceful . . . except for Hannah (3) riding her big-wheel tricycle behind me. The wide, hollow, pink plastic wheels ground over the disintegrating asphalt, radiating into the peacefulness the racket of an ore crusher. I couldn’t hear my wife talk or myself think. Continue reading
Paving Rabbit Lane changed the nature of the country road so totally and quickly that my mind and emotions struggled to adjust. Gone were the gravel, hard-pack dirt, and potholes. In their place lay milled asphalt, the detritus of some other road mixed with new oil and laid roughly to rest on Rabbit Lane. Some chunks still showed patches of yellow striping, so disjointed as to be of no use to the traveler, pointing in no direction and every direction. As I saw it, the County had strangled the life out of Rabbit Lane. I, also, found it harder to breath. This poem portrays my early perspectives of this black-oil change. (See the Chapter 38: Black-Oil Pavement post on the Rabbit Lane: Memoir page of this blog for a related discussion.)
It happened sooner than I expected.
ROAD CLOSED barricades appeared at either end.
They had paved Rabbit Lane.
They had paved Rabbit Lane with roto-mill from some other road’s temporary demise,
mixed the black rubbish with new oil
and plastered it flat upon the hard, living earth.
Now, after rain, Rabbit Lane reveals nothing,
no tracks of the earthworm pushing perilously slowly across the road,
no paw or claw prints of raccoons or pheasants.
No more wet pot holes for the children to ride their bicycles through with a whoop.
Instead, oil leaches invisibly into the ditch
to water cattle and crops some place too far away for accountability.
Pink-flowered milkweed and wispy willow bush cling to the asphalt fringe.
They transformed Rabbit Lane from a dirt farm road with country appeal
to another icon of the American Nowhere, with all the charm of a parking lot.
Rabbit Lane, of course, neither knows nor cares about the change.
But I know, and I am saddened.
–Boogers are sticky!–
Dead and dying poplars stand along the ditch bank on Rabbit Lane, like sentries propped up against battles long ago lost and won. Many branches, devoid of leaves, poke absently out and up like ten thousand fingers on stubby arms. On the oldest, the only leaves huddle close to the trunk, near the base. Finches and sparrows hop happily amidst the morass for some purpose unknown to me, or for no purpose. Their nests lie hidden somewhere in dense bushes; no seeds or insects can be found in the spiky tree stubble. But safety from cats and falcons the branches certainly provide. Continue reading