Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Monday, July 7, 2008

Thanks For the Detour, and All the Fish

"It is not down in any map; true places never are."
-Herman Melville

Spouse and I grumbled about the sudden diversion on our way home. The roadworks and warning signs had been pitifully difficult to see, and abruptly we found ourselves propelled off the main road and rambling along an uneven stretch of countryside. The meandering route of twenty miles promised to set us back at least thirty minutes- rather precious time considering that we were travelling with an amount of kindly donated frozen fish and had set out from our friends' house much later than we intended.
A convoy of fellow drivers, also forced to diverge, soon gathered behind and in front of us as we trailed at a slower pace than we would have wished.
It was drawing near to evening time as we found ourselves silently observing the dream-like greenery of the landscape. A ghostly mist was slowly wrapping itself around the shadows of broken tractors, rusty gates and dense, dark woods.
We coasted past crooked barns whose cobwebbed, vacant windows offered a fleeting glimpse of the past and of half-forgotten history. We caught the brief flash of a river that intersected time itself.
The unfamiliar fragment of the world that we stumbled upon was exquisitely ripe and overgrown green, and exuded so powerful a sense of history as to seem almost drunk with it; I doubt the scene had changed at all in the last century.
Spouse and I have seen many a beautiful place in our travels but such a detour at the close of a perfect Summer day was so spectacular and unexpected that it took our breath away there and then.
As a rule when driving we do choose the scenic route even though it tends to extend the journey, and in our hearts we are always aware that the wider roads tend to offer little in the way of beauty. On this occasion, though, we had been inclined to complain a little about the delay both because of our concern for the fish and because we had not anticipated the extent of the magic.
We both felt enveloped by the persisting goodness and warmth of a nook that we could lamentably only experience from a moving car.
Spouse said, as roadsigns advised the end of the detour and we began our descent into what is commonly termed civilisation, that he was really quite glad we were forced to go astray.
I think that we would like to go back for a visit, or to live there permanently.
One can ask nothing more of a detour.


Tom the Piper's Son said...

I, too, have found that unexpected inconveniences can lead to pleasant, even life changing, discoveries. As if the universe says, "The only way to get him out his rut is to throw a rock in the pathway". I just wish I could remember that everytime I get interrupted or inconvenienced!

Another little "self-help pep talk" I give myself is that an annoying or "inconvenient" person might be "a hidden master". This idea I get from the Hasidic tradition that says hidden masters roam the world in unrecognizable guises for some reason (spiritual I would suppose) and one never knows when they appear.

Meanwhile, my first thoughupon reading your story is from the baseball catcher Yogi Berra. He and his wife were driving to a dinner engagement in New Jersey when they found themselves getting lost. Yogi stopped at a phone booth and called his dinner destination friends, saying, "We're lost but we're making good time." (apologies if you've heard all of this!)
anyway, my roundabout way of saying I'm enjoying all of your posts.
- Tom

Pauline said...

My Pepere used to say that there was nothing so bad that some small good didn't come of it. Looks like your detour gave you a glimpse of a possible future trip to look for that nook. I didn't see mention of spoiled fish (nor of sausage bread!) so I take it you made it home with no food damage. Glad to have you back and writing.

Beth said...

Maine is mostly detours--except for one big highway connecting New Brunswick with New Hampshire. I'm glad that you enjoyed your visit and think about making the lifestyle change--it can be done as long as your expectations are realistic. I found the book Dakota by Kathleen Norris helpful to me before I made the move.

Jaime said...'s that book of yours coming along? *wink*

You know, I read these amazing stories, and it's not so much the plot that I am drawn to. It's the wonderful way you put into words what you capture with your eyes and your heart. Such close attention to detail...leads to such beautifully descriptive writing. I can almost see these scenes with my own eyes.

And what wonderful serendipity you experienced on this so-called detour!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

yes some detours are delightful diversions...beautifully written post, I enjoyed pulling off the main path with you.

Barb said...

Thanks for the little journey ... felt like I was sitting in the back seat of your car and travelling through with you enjoying the mist covered fields, and tractor parts and forgotten buildings. What a beautifully written ... my minds eye saw every little detail. B

Pappy said...

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful as Lawrence Welk used to say. Actually he pronounced it Wonerful. You've done it again. Great descriptive piece. Pappy

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Tom, thanks for the great comment. I do believe there's no such thing as getting lost, not really! We just have to see diversions from a different perspective and see where they take us.
And no, I hadn't heard that Yogi Berra story before- it's a good one. I'll remember it and use it someday :) Thanks for sharing that.

Pauline, No, the fish didn't get spoiled. We didn't get sausage bread this time but the fish was perfectly fine by the time we got home.

Beth, I'll definitely check out that book. Thanks for that- we are quite whimsical about moving around and deciding where to live but practicalities will always come first.

Jaime, what a kind compliment :) thank you so much. It's what I like to hear. I like that you feel you're really seeing the scene.

Kimy, this one was particularly a great diversion, I've not seen a beautiful place like that before that I can remember. Most detours are wonderful if your mindset is right.

Barb, so glad you enjoyed it. So that was you in the back seat making sure the fish didn't melt then ;) I knew someone was there.

Texican, I try to balance between the descriptive stories and the narrative ones, but this was a scene I really wanted to visually share. It seems by your comment that I succeeded with description- no story to speak of, just the grass and the trees.

polona said...

interesting how annoyances can turn out to be blessings in disguise... beautiful piece of writinh once more.
and welcome back :)

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Polona, it's not always easy to see things from another side, I know, but I think you do that well with your photos- you see a spider, for example, and make a poem out of him ;)
Maybe that's what it's all about- seeing, and perspective.

Nan said...

The road "less traveled by." I couldn't resist. :<) This was the first thought which came into my head. I'd love to have been with you.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Nan, It was the most stunning drive. I wish we had pictures but the light was too poor, being misty at evening time.
I did think of the road less travelled too :) That's just what it was.

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