On the Road.

On a rainy Saturday, I pause on an empty road and snap a photo. I’d been listening to NPR’s coverage of the January 6 insurrection, one more plot point along the disintegration of the American Empire.

For June in Vermont, it’s darn cold. I’m wearing a winter hat, and the damp wind reminds me of the ocean, how the salt air cuts into you. Listening, I remembered August 1974 when Nixon resigned. My family was moving that day, and my father, fixated, insisted on setting up our tiny black-and-white television. My sister and I asked what the word resignation meant. My father, dealing with movers and three little children and a curious pack of new neighbors, paused to teach us the meaning of that word and gave a comedic impression of I am not a crook, and then explained what that meant, too.

Decades later, and a whole lot of crooked politics later, I still think of the open road as my family’s version of Huck Finn’s Mississippi River. Not long after we moved that August, my parents drove their three little kids in our green Jeep to the ocean. We had lived in the southwest and never seen the ocean — so much water, so much sky, the impossible proved possible. My father taught us how to fly a kite, its long tail fluttering in the wind.

...Yet I like driving at night
in summer and in Vermont:
the brown road through the mist...
— Hayden Carruth, "The Cows at Night"

13 thoughts on “On the Road.

  1. Thank you Brett. Your piece of yesterday made me recall a tender moment with my Dad and I went on to read more poems by Hayden Carruth. Heard him read The Cows at Night in the state house years ago.

  2. I was approaching high school graduation age in 1974, Brett Ann, so the Nixon escapades most certainly received the sharp focus in the appropriate classrooms as well as the newspapers I read and network news shows I watched. (I already had decided by then that my college major would be journalism.)
    So, so much stuck with me in the rolling decades since, including the significance of that tape, and hello Rosemary Woods.
    (I can’t tell you how many times rewind-play-type was part of my professional routine to more precisely decipher a quote from my accompanying quickly scribbled handwritten notes.)
    Anyway now as our save-democracy drama plays out I find the dialogue in my head going Nixonesque, what do you mean it’s not true, it’s right there on tape!

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