Coming off my shift at McDonald's Christmas Eve in the late afternoon, I left straight for Butte, no stops at the apartment to shower or change out of my grease infused uniform. I wanted to cross the pass before nightfall. I wanted to get my holiday started. I wanted to see Demetra again since she had left a few days early to help her parents with gift wrapping and cookie baking.
The sun was already just a few degrees from the horizon when I left. Passing Belgrade, it was already dipping below. The wisps and trails of cirrus clouds that hung it around burned peach and apricot and lavender as the sun fell further. The clear skies before, above and behind me passed from the pale, milky blue in the west through to the muted sapphire of dusk in the east. The silhouettes of the summits of the mountains on the horizons appeared above low-hanging clouds. Frost and snow gilded the trees I passed. It was the kind of drive where I had to force myself to pay attention to the roads when I wanted to turn my head every attention and see it all.
And yet for all that drive's majesty, it could only hope to compare equally with the drive back, begun after the sunset and under a sheet of clouds that hid the waning moon. There's something about driving at night. The day is done. There is neither appointment nor meal to rush to at the destination. It is easy. Your attention turns inward when the landscape is in the dark, offering no distraction, and there is no horizon to look toward and yearn for. It all happens in turn. It all just passes.
I am no great, eager driver. I willingly cede the right to drive to anyone I ride with, but on the road at night, singing along to a CD to stay at attention and seeing only the road in front of me, it's a comfortable sort of thing.
3 years ago