Me: “Oh this is a mess at this intersection, you’ll want to get over and then be patient, they’re rebuilding a bridge on Santa Fe.” (I’m forever a back-seat driver.)
Him: Grousing to no one in general “Why do we have to wait?”
Him: “Come on people, let’s GO.”
Me: “OK, no grousing today. It’s a beautiful day in Colorado, we have the whole day to ourselves after a leisurely start, you have a younger wife who loves and adores you, we’re in a pretty T-bird convertible headed to one of the grandest resorts in the US…no, in the world.”
Pause. “It’s good to be us.”
On the way to Colorado Springs we take the back road to Castle Rock, Santa Fe, Highway 85. Richard reminds me when his friend Midge Smart many years ago used to drive this road every day to deposit money in a Denver bank when Bill couldn’t get a Springs bank to loan him money to build homes. It was a two-lane asphalt highway that she called the ‘ribbon of death’ for the number of wrecks that happened then.
We notice an old abandoned house and wonder who used to live there, why, what happened and what will become of it.
It’s a rather eerie place. Traffic zooms by as if the place doesn’t exist. The deterioration of the front door appears to have a menacing eye looking out daring people to venture closer. I may have to write a ghost story about this place.
We pass a field that has a dozen or so horses graze lazily, suburbia fences them in.
Another pasture of small purplish flowers ripples with the breeze. It looks soft and inviting, a lush carpet of Colorado springtime.
The coal trains, one close on the caboose heels of the other. Too bad we don’t see cabooses any more. In childhood, we waited for these last cars and waved enthusiastically to the men who were posted in the caboose. Now it’s just big powerful engines and coal cars. No need to count, there are 100 cars each with 10 tons of coal. Many times, each day, every day, from Wyoming mines in the north to New Mexico refineries in the south they steadily, routinely, without fail, trudge what remains of this natural resource from one place to another. Some day it may not be so, but for now, it is a part of our landscape. It helps define who we are at this time, in this place. It is a touchstone and brings a sense of a fading Americana. It is a known, a comfort, yet leaves me feeling odd about the tenuous reassurance it provides.