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  • I pull from the town’s last sleepiness just before the school buses buzz about collecting their honey from the scatter of houses up this mountain. Only a logging truck fully loaded is slower than a school bus. I have no time for either.

    No kids kick at the dirt or throw rocks or roughhouse at the edge of the road. It’s too early yet. Everything is still, quiet, cuddled up in mist quilts, everything but for the river tumbling noisily down its stony bed. Today it’s staying there, not running all wild over the road. I’ve stalled out on this road in a rush of water. I’ve seen mudslides mangle this spot. I’ve been hit by a car trying to pass on that curve.

    But not today.

    I open the window to the cloud. It pillows right in, cushions my senses, looking for trouble. There’s something malevolent about this stretch of road. It’s got it in for me I swear. I roll up the window.

    I think of deer or bear or moose slipping through the murk and into my red car. I know someone who had a bull moose slam into the back of his truck. Not a pretty story.

    Just like that the mist raises its skirts to reveal a rusty necklace of leaves draped like a fox stole upon the mountain’s shoulders. Blackbirds lift into raggedy lace above a far field. Leaves fly from a tree like birds. The few houses strung like Christmas lights along the road, blinking and worn, puff smoke from their chimneys.

    It is unspeakably beautiful.

    I pass a dog standing on its little house, barking hard at the woods, then a calf tied to a tree, chickens at its feet, a sign carved with Taxidermist hanging above them. Further on a few political signs pitch and tilt at the end of a dirt driveway as though floating on a drunken sea. Then a horse, burdocks knotting tail and mane into dreadlocks, grazing in a tiny paddock, no house in sight. A pick-up—where did it come from--passes me and then slows down. It’s trailing a small boat wearing reeds and grasses and filled with duck decoys. It finally speeds up again and then it's gone.

    I’ve driven this road dozens and dozens of times, yet I don’t remember any of this.

    Near the top, in a turn around, three men huddle at the back of a pick-up. They turn to look at me. I pretend not to notice, but from the rearview mirror I see them lift a large buck into the bed, its body limp and heavy in their arms, its antlers branching, its honey coat tipped by white fluff.
    And I can’t shake the feeling that I’m driving through a story but I don’t know which one and who does what and what it means.

    And then just like that I’m off the mountain and on the highway, heading to work in morning’s full light. Nothing just happened. Nothing just shifted. No story. Just the morning mist and the unfurling road and the bits of this and that life. And the hold they have on my heart.
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