I exited the highway and slowly drifted down the muddy road. A few days prior I’d spotted the tunnel. The entrance is dark and foreboding. The Virginia Creeper vines hang across the opening as if they’re daring me to step within reach. Just on the other side the light falls gently on a peaceful looking forest. This is a mystery. My mind harkens back to my childhood and games of dungeons and dragons. What will happen if I cross the threshold? Will the vines try to grab me and pull me up into some primeval jungle? Will I find out the peaceful scene on the other side is just an illusion as I’m transported to an alternate reality by some mystical gateway? Will I find an angry axe wielding ogre waiting to squish me into jelly? My sense of fantasy and adventure begins to run wild. I began to recall hours of solving puzzles and riddles with my college friends in a world where one’s fate was controlled by the roll of a 20 sided die. It was pure escapism. Magical swords, cursed rings and legendary beasts all awaited us on Thursday nights in the student lounge.
The best games were the ones where we bent the rules just a little to keep the story going. I was tempted to temp fate and enter the tunnel for a few minutes. I quickly checked my pocket and found my trusty Victorinox Swiss Army Knife to fend away the vines. However, I remembered that the 20 sided die was lost to a wild roll and an open floor vent in 1988. Unwilling to face any axe wielding ogres without my lucky die, I opted to stay in the real world…for now. I turned my big blue truck back towards the open road and my day job where the vines don’t try to eat you. However, I am a little suspicious of the ficus in the corner of the office. 😉
I love big old ancient trees. The older the better. In ancient times, big old trees were thought to be magical entities that stood between heaven and earth. They guarded the secrets of the universe. Trees also represent a shelter for weary travelers. The give us food and medicine. I believe that the tree in the feature image is a Red Elm tree. Also known as the Slippery Elm, the inner bark yields a mucilaginous substance that is used to treat respiratory ailments. The tea made from the inner bark has a sweet spicy flavor that’s pleasant enough to enjoy just for relaxing. Don’t drink too much because it’s also a laxative.
I’m really surprised that this one is still around. Sadly, the Elm population was nearly destroyed by Dutch Elm Disease. In the spring the government hangs purple boxes in the trees that attracts the beetles responsible for the spread of fungus. The beetle traps seem to be working well so hopefully we’ll have these awesome trees around for generations of travelers to shelter under or collect medicine from.
Life is a lot like music. The musical scale contains only twelve basic notes. And yet, those twelve notes have spawned every song known to mankind. Life also has its basic elements and rhythm. While I’m not a musician myself my understand is that it’s the bridge that ties it all together. As life changes from one phase to the next we look for a bridge to facilitate the transition. Some bridges are shorter than others but all of them are temporary. How bad would your favorite song be if it was all bridge? We’d miss the best part of the song. Life’s bridges may not be the best part of life but they do take us to those places. We just need keep moving forward.
Tonight’s post has a gate attached.
I stopped by this place on my drive home today just to take this picture. I’ve passed by it often and I’ve liked the rustic look. There’s something about the texture of the weathered wood that I really find appealing. This gate literally leads nowhere. Just a wide spot near the road that I’m pretty sure belongs to the Railroad. (I didn’t pass beyond the gate due to the private property sign hanging on it.)
I suppose that the scene represented a mystery to me.
An open gate that guards an empty lot. A sign that warns you to keep out. And an empty (I presume) gas can. A younger version of myself would not have been deterred by a sign on an open gate. I would have walked right on in just to be rebel. However, today I’m responsible for my own actions and so I’ll have to live with the mystery. But I do have a theory. This gate is there to keep the weeds from running out into the road and causing a traffic accident. 😉🤣
I have often said that my highway to heaven is a dirt road. Dirt roads take us to places unknown and seldom seen. We enter another world where a good ATV ( commonly referred to as a 4 wheeler in my part of Appalachia) or your own feet are the best travel options. When I was a kid we would head out on an old dirt road like the one in the feature image ever chance we got. These roads often contain mud holes that more akin to ponds than potholes. In the spring and summer they’re normally full of tadpoles and newts. My brother and I would escape the heat of the mobile home by finding one of the largest holes we could back under the canopy of the trees to play in. We’d come home covered in mud after riding our bicycles through the mud as hard as we could. We were pretending to be motocross racers. We’d slam the brakes in mud and throw it out as hard as we could. Whoever could make the biggest splash was the winner. We’d play Evil Knievel too. (For those too young to remember he was the most famous stuntman of my youth. You can read about him here). My poor mother would have two boys who looked like mud monsters by the time we were done.
Later in life I would walk these dirt roads at a slower pace while stalking deer or just out exploring. Walking a road like the one in the feature image is kinda like being on a treadmill with people throwing mud, rocks and tree stumps at your feet. The mud settles in low spots and it’s a perfect way for a beginner to find animal tracks and learn about tracking.
Today necessity keeps me on the nice pavement. I walk through a world of concrete and asphalt. But I still long for an abandoned dirt road with a huge mud hole and a good off road bicycle.