Many adventures, I'm sure, have started with, "I'm pretty sure this is the right road, I think."
I've never been a stellar navigator, easily distracted into the hypnotic passing of telephone poles, or the life happening on the other side of my passenger-seat window. I decided to take a drive to Lake Huron recently, and, for a while, managed to stay on the main routes, but traveling solo can be challenging; I can't drive and read a map at the same time, so the while ended on the way out of Owen Sound. Here, I fell to the bait of a soft liquorice road skirting south of the main route. Most of the traffic was scrambling to go west, but this other route was beckoning, as if the imps had a secret to share with me.
There was no Oh-God-hurry-so-we-can-have-our vacation–urgency on this route in comparison to the other, but I picked up a little speed on the way out of town and crossed–into a painting. The sun was fetching up the rich tones of green, the new yellow in the wheat, and the reds, whites, and blacks of the cattle and horses. The land stretched out flat up here after the hills and the Blue Mountains that I had come through. The fences were square and neat. I passed farms at the height of their beauty with full gardens, enjoying this day; the up-ride against the coming down of winter's cold. I came to corners where there were three or four houses maybe, and people out enjoying the day after whatever and wherever their work took them. I thought them lucky and wondered if they did too.
Then, I found the secret. I came upon a field with a herd of beef cattle, all relaxing; some standing, others their legs tucked underneath as they rested like great steamer trunks on a pier. There was a woman standing out with them and I will admit, she and the whole scene took my breath away. She had a kerchief on her head, a long-sleeved shirt and jeans. She was holding a long pole, like a walking stick. She was standing, arms crossed, with the pole tucked in her right elbow. She was looking at the cows, standing there, with the sun drawing down her back. I could not see her face. She could have been merely looking. Or she could have been reciting poetry. Or singing. If you've never been around cattle, well, they are attentive. When they are calm, you are calm. You can't help it. Their breath is sweet like the upper notes of a field of clover. They watch you with those fast-ball-sized eyes with the most feminine lashes, and listen with perfect ears the size of tacos!
I almost stopped the van. I could hear the sounds in my head; the cows chewing, swishing their tails. I could smell their sweetness mixed with the afternoon breeze, laden with whatever else it had moved through on the way there. The woman stood and looked. She was beautiful. I could feel the ground underneath her boots and the sun on her back. The whole scene was paint-worthy. It was as if it was planned, choreographed just for me.
Lake Huron was nice, but it was the gift of the woman in the field with the cattle that made my day. I am grateful to have witnessed it and to have a past that enabled me to imagine the sensuality of that moment; sounds, smells, thoughts and that calmness. Thanks to the imps and the lure of that liquorice road. How lucky to have taken the wrong route!