Calendar seasons be damned, winter is here. The air is so crisp, especially as dark settles, and those colors in the long winter sunsets when the trees are dead and the attention is gone from the bold greens and sea blues of foliage. The reds and clays and browns highlighted by a turquoise winter sky. Sunsets know how long and lazy they are this time of year and lose the flamboyance of summer sunsets, opting instead for slow subtle beauty in the painterly fashion seeming to drift on from just before noon. Perfect and unique, live a thousand lifetimes and you’ll never see that sunset again.
And after a brief twilight, the dark and again my mind is on my quickly numbing hands (it is the season to remember your glove liners and I need new gloves anyway) and the cold rush of air around me. It’s a beautiful feeling, until your thighs, posterior and your hands get cold. There’s no coming back from that fate until you finally arrive wherever you’re arriving.
Our favorite almost close to home road is changing. The wood line is dotted with 5-10 acre lot realty signs, zoned commercial, many marked in bright red SOLD, some already being clear cut. Houses being built, lonely farmhouses torn down, lots filled, more car lots- who the hell needs this many cars? And who invented the subdivision? That ultimate homage to consumerism efficiency, that mockery of real architecture, that cookie cutter death knell to the American Dream. What would the land runners have thought of all this progress, so-called? There were pretty woods there once and the sun rose glorious over that once pasture, before the view was blocked by progress. All those peaked roofs look the same, cheap composite overpaid by your back, an extortionate Hooverville. One of my favorite natural arbors to ride under is a ¼ gone now to clearcutting. It won’t be the same come spring, if any of it is still there at all. Who needs a damn house built there? Two houses are for sale just up the road. Waste is rampant.
Backroads again, in the cold scents come stronger and the world is quieter. Everything becomes ethereal in the winter, a world plunged into a sleep like death. You see it when you are part of your environment, feel it and smell it. So unusual, the jarring silence even overwhelms the engine drone.
I’ve gone too long without going, the sound of engines firing shook me out of exhaustion and my heart leapt up. My adventures have been less than two wheeled for the last month. Not intentionally, but with a photography exhibit to prepare for, putting the finishing touches on a major undertaking, holidays and all the preparations they require, and the everyday day to day, it’s been some kind of month. Separately, those things are fine, responsibilities exhausting in a rewarding sense, but coupled together with time eaters like a weeklong flu bug, plumbing and truck repairs, and minor inconveniences in the wake of an ice storm, it’s not my cup of tea and I had to go as soon as the gate was left open.
After nearly a month away from the road, my awareness is back and suddenly the world doesn’t seem so damn monotonously trifling. The trees crackle the sky behind them with deep black patterns, blurring as I pass, the deep tangerine of the night watchmen by country houses sends me back to some long ago memory, and the lazy livestock amble in the periphery, silhouetted shadows breathing smoke in the growing night. The colors of sunset fade to twilight and into indigo night and a slow trickling stream of cold white lights pass in the opposing lane, here and there Christmas lights twinkle coldly by in the dark, a blur of carousel colors, a cold synthetic garden in the absence of blooming flora , and everything goes right side up again.