I’ve had many country drives for both work and pleasure, and something about it makes me feel at home, despite never growing up in the actual “country.” I know that “country” is relative- I definitely took a country highway to get to elementary school, so it wasn’t far away.
On many of these drives over the past year, I’ve been compiling some of the things that make these unique roadways stick out in my mind… so without further ado:
An Ode to Two Lane Country Highways.
I head due north, on a winding road like ribbon candy, passing hand painted business signs and small town bars.
The road narrows for bridges and train tracks, since those features were here long before wide roads and even wider trucks.
Anglers are parked at every stream crossing, tucked away between rows of corn and farm machinery. If I’m not seeing the corn, I’m blown away by fields of sunflowers or the overwhelmingly understated smell of freshly cut hay blowing through my crazy curls through the open window.
Every once and a while, I’ll make a sharp turn around a farmer’s field to hit a patch with tons of bugs making their last signature statement in a blaze of green and yellow on my windshield.
Clouds of dust are kicked up by trucks cruising down the cross streets, and the wildlife is uninterested…cows, horses, pigs, sheep, goats, whitetails.
Majestic old churches stand strong against the flat land and strong winds, and each one has its own seemingly personalized cemetery.
I don’t have to look hard to see deer stands nestled among huge, beautiful trees.
Four-wheelers and snowmobiles line up, parked, at what can only be described as true convenience stores, carrying everything from hardware and tools to movie rentals to ice cream.
Cruise control is variable- you can lock in at 64 mph then be shocked at a 90 degree turn out of nowhere.
Repurposed school buses are parked outside of big farmhouses, always leaving me to wonder what they’re using them for!
Little motels and inns house weary travelers next to family restaurants advertising their Friday fish fry. Don’t miss it. Seriously.
Roadkill is a regular occurrence- it always pings my heart a little as it reminds me to respect nature- they were here first. I need a few more years of fly tying under my belt before I’ll stop and cut fur or pluck feathers from roadkill, but I’m sure it’s in my future somewhere.
Unincorporated towns are based at intersections and there is a distinct individuality between municipalities.
Fresh produce is for sale on the side of the road, and my attention was drawn to it due to the custom mailbox- perhaps a spotted cow, or a largemouth bass.
Barns and silos, honey and maple syrup, dairies and cheese stores. If the dairy is open- pick up some squeaky cheese curds. You won’t regret it. They won’t even make it home- you’ll eat them in the car.
Large boulders marring farmer’s fields have been painted over time and again by inspired high school graffiti artists wishing “Happy Birthday, Rocky!” or “Class of 1999.”
When I finally intersect with the interstate, I’m not relieved of a faster speed to get home. I’m jolted back into the reality of my busy life, and I’ve often pulled an illegal U-turn to head back for another few miles on that country road.