Periodically, the road grader rumbles up one side of my country road and down the other, scraping the hard, rain battered shoulders into pristine swathes of sand and gravel. If I can keep my bike wheels out of this treacherous softness, I can read all the brand new news on my ride.
The wildlife wastes no time. Three deer have crossed the road, one set of hoof prints quite small. A coyote has trotted along the edge before veering off again into the trees, preferring not to be spotted by humans. This year’s abundance of bunnies have also hurried to make their mark, boding well for the coyote. An intrepid runner, still an amusing sight to farm folk, has passed. A town person has parked their car to treat their dog to a country dog walk, a mile in each direction, shoe and paw print in companionable unison. I can just imagine the doggy grin.
Recent tire tracks from a hidden lane reassure me that the elderly recluse in there is alive and driving out to shop. A pack of touring cyclists have pulled off briefly to check their maps. That’s more much appreciated tourist dollars into the local economy. Sharp arcs off and back onto the road tell of conscientious cell phone users keeping us safe. A farm tractor, pulling double wagons loaded with hay for winter fodder, has churned the shoulder with massive treads, trying to keep as far out of traffic as possible. The hayfield on the back road had probably been cleared. Closer to home, I can tell that the farmer with the cattle in my fields has stopped to drop off a new block of salt. That means he’s also counted them and checked the weak spot in the fence, to my relief. And a birder has walked across the road to see what herons, ducks, swans or egrets the beaver pond is offering up. I might make it again to the top of the local bird list. Bike tracks out of my own drive tell the world I have virtuously done my eight miles today.
In a few days, the telltale notices will be so crisscrossed and written over that I will completely lose the thread. But when I hear that great yellow grader roar, I know it’s news time again,