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Cruising on a Saturday Night

On Saturday nights while in high school  when I had babysitting money to spend, I would borrow my mom’s Ford Grenada to go cruising.  Unlike most kids in my town, I never cruised the circuit that went up Magnolia Avenue over to Sycamore and to the small gas station at the other end of town that had a parking lot you could drive thru.  I also did not go to the drive-in theater where the cheerleaders and athletes hung out.  Instead, I put gas in the tank and drove it back out again.  Most times I went up on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  If I drove north, I stop at Stuarts Draft and back on I-81.  If I turned south, I got off at either Troutville or Roanoke.  Then, I came back by either Route 11 or I-81 depending on which would get me home on time.

This particular Saturday night,…, I decide to drive out to South River Road.  I leave the house and drive through town to the cheapest place to buy gasoline.  I put five dollars into the tank, which adds six gallons.  While pumping, I see several kids I know from school.  I do not talk to any of them.  They do not talk to me.  That is okay.  I want to be alone, although many of the boys will later claim they cruised with me.  Of course, they would also claim that we did much more that cruise.  In all my years in school here, I have dated only two boys from my high school.  The others are just rumors.  I do not always hear the gossip, so I do not know who all has made that claim.  I do not care what they say.  I do not hang out with any of them.  As far as I am concerned, they can believe whatever they want to believe.  I know the truth, and that is all that matters.

I pay for the gas and get in the car.  It is a warm night so I reach over and roll the passenger window down about half way.  I roll my window down just a crack.  I do not want my waist length hair getting into my eyes.  I start the motor and leave the lot.  The tires roll on the pavement causing a slight vibration.  I push the tape in and turn it up.  Music spills out of the speakers and fills the car.  It trickles our the windows as I drive.  I play drums on the steering wheel as I drive up Long Hollow Road after going through the culvert.  I make sure not to speed.  I do not want my evening alone interrupted, and I certainly do not want to explain a ticket to my mom.  I drive past the prefabricated houses that were built in the 1970’s.  They all look basically the same.  The same siding in different colors.  The same roof and shingles.  The same shutters.  The same storm doors.  Some have their narrow ends to the road, but most have wide fronts.  Most have stoops.  A few have actual porches.  One has a chain-link fence.  Between these houses, the older homes stick out like sore thumbs.  In one place, a brick house with a wrap around porch stands beside a two story farmhouse.

I keep driving past the trailer park.  Soon, I pass by Pinky’s Grocery which is smaller than the average house.  Pinky’s is usually busy on a Saturday evening.  As I go by, I notice five cars in the lot.  One is a classic beauty.  Two are trucks.  I drive by the house of the trailer park owners.  The lot beside the house has dump trucks, a backhoe, and a bulldozer.  Beside these sits an empty trailer.  I continue past the auto repair shop.  I slow a little to see what classic cars he might have there.  I never stop.  Classic or not, driving is more important.  I love to drive.

Long Hollow Road, like so many roads in rural Virginia, is not straight, in many places.  I am careful to pay attention.  Traffic.  Blind turns.  Side roads.  Animals.  People checking mail.  If it were later in the night when the roads are empty, I would take the turns doing the speed limit of fifty-five.  Instead, I slow before turns and accelerate after.  The car responds nicely to gas or brake.  The motor purrs.  I sway slightly with each turn.

I slow as I approach the railroad tracks.  The one side runs parallel to the road for a while so I know that it is clear.  The other side is somewhat hidden by bushes and trees.  I slow and look past the foliage.  No train.  I nudge the gas.  Bump. Bump.  Over the tracks.  I press the gas pedal as I drive by Mountain View Elementary.  My turn onto South River is coming up.  A market by the same name occupies the intersection lot.  I think about stopping in for a drink.  The road calls.  I make the turn and hit the gas.  The car responds.  I relax in the seat.

To my left, the swimming hole called ‘The Ledges’ is empty.  It is warm, but not warm enough to swim.  I drive past without slowing.  The car hums.  The road’s turns allow me to cruise at a nice fifty miles an hour.  It’s getting dark.  I turn on the headlights.  The darkness retreats.  I smile.  The headlights of oncoming cars warn me of their approach.  I slow for a truck that appears in front of me from a side road.  I consider going around.  His turn signal comes on, he slows, and turns into a driveway.

I nudge the gas pedal.  The car reacts.  I drive past Twin Falls which cascades in one large flow because of recent rains.  I continue on.  Soon, I slow to make the turn onto Irish Creek.  There is no traffic so I press my foot down to bring the car up to speed.  I drive past what in later years will become a favorite fishing hole.  I watch for deer and see none.  It is not mating season, yet.  I feel the curves move me.  I feel the vibration of the motor and tires meeting road.  The music dances through the air.  I smile and sing along.  The road becomes gravel.  I slow to avoid spinning out in some of the turns.

I think about the road.  I think about the car.  I think about speed and the turns.  I turn down the music and listen to the motor.  I feel the road through steering wheel and seat and floor.  I nudge the pedal and feel the result.  I smile.  There is the road, the car, and me.  Nothing else exists because nothing else matters.  I feel free as the wind blows my hair.  It tickles my arms.  I breathe in the air of farms, and river, and trees, and dirt road.  I move the steering wheel to avoid potholes.  I slow down and move to the edge of washboards.  I make sure to stay on Irish Creek.  There are many side roads that lead to dead ends and being late.  And grounded.

Far too soon, GrantCemetery looms in front of me.  I stop for the sign at the threshold of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I check my watch.  I turn south toward Route 60 and home.  I drive the Parkway at the posted speed even though I have it much faster before this.  I have time.  I enjoy the intermittent view of the city lights in the valley below.  Buena Vista close; Lexington further away.  I am grateful I am not there.  I drive in excellent solitude.  I reach the turn and slow down.  I brake to a stop before turning onto Route 60.

I head down the mountain, meeting more traffic along the way.  I carefully watch my speed.  The police love to give tickets here.  It is easy to miss the speed change.  I come down into town with five minutes to spare.  I stop at the light near Hardees, which is fairly new in town.  I turn onto Sycamore and drive to the other end of town.  I continue on past the turn around lot that other cruisers use.  I head home.  I pull onto the side street, going slow.  I turn into our driveway.  I park the car and shut off the motor.  I pull the key out of the ignition.  The tension returns.  I sigh.  I open the car door and step out.  I close the door and walk toward the house.  I stop by the car.  “Thank you,” I say as I pat the hood.

Welcome to Buena Vista

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*Which version do you like better?  This one?  or the other one?  Why?*

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On Saturday nights when I had babysitting money to spend.  I would borrow my mom’s Ford Granada to go cruising.  Unlike most of the kids in my town, I did not cruise the circuit that wound up Magnolia Avenue around to Sycamore Avenue and to the small gas station at the other end of town that had a parking lot you could drive thru.  I also did not go to the drive-in theater that I later found out was the hang out for the cheerleaders, athletes, and their friends.  Instead, I would put my money in the tank and drive.  Most times, I would drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  If I drove north, I would stop at Stuarts Draft and drive back by way of the interstate.  If I drove south, I would get off at Troutville.  Then, I would drive back on Route 11 or the interstate, which ever one would get me home on time. 

This particular night, I decided to drive out on South River Road.  I would turn onto Irish Creek and get on the Parkway.  I would then exit onto Route 60 to head back into Buena Vista.  That was the plan anyway.  I left the house and stopped by the cheapest place to get gasoline.  I put my five dollars in the tank.  I saw several people I knew, but none I really wanted to talk to.  I like being alone, although many a boy would claim that he was with me.  Of course, said boy would also claim that we did much more than just drive.  I let the gossip alone, just like I left the boys alone.  In all my years in school there, I only dated two from my high school.  The others were just rumors.  I did not hear the gossip, so I did not care.  They could believe whatever they wanted to believe.  I knew the truth, and that was all that mattered.

It was a warm night.  I rolled down the passenger side window about half way and cracked my window just a little.  I did not want my long hair to get into my eyes.  I started the motor, put the car in gear, and started to drive.  The tires rolled on the pavement causing a slight vibration.  The radio played my favorite cassette tape.  The music spilled out of the speakers and quickly filled the car.  I played the drums on the steering wheel as I drove up Long Hollow Road after going through the culvert.  I made sure not to speed since I did not want my evening alone interrupted.  I certainly did not want to tell my mom that I had gotten a ticket.  I drove past the pre-fabricated houses that were built during the 1970’s.  At least, I think that was when they were built.  They all looked basically the same.  The same siding in different colors.  The same roofs and shingles.  The same shutters.  The same storm doors.  Some had their narrow ends to the road, but most had wide fronts.  Most had stoops.  A few actually had porches.  Between these houses, the older houses stood out like sore thumbs.  In one place, a brick house with a wrap around porch had a two story farmhouse beside it for company. 

I kept driving past the trailer park.  Soon, I past Pinky’s Grocery Store that was smaller than the average house.  The pumps out front were usually busy on a Saturday night.  This night was no exception.  The lot had five cars total parked in it.  Two were getting gasoline.  I kept driving.  I past the house of the trailer park owners.  They always had a trailer in the lot beside their house with their heavy trucks and equipment. 

I drove by the auto repair shop.  I slowed to see what classic cars he might be working on this week, but I never stopped.  Classic or not, driving was more important to me.  I loved to drive.  Long Hollow Road, like so many roads in rural Virginia, is not straight, in many places.  I was careful about traffic, but if I was alone, I would take the turns at speed rather than slow as much as many drivers. 

I slowed when I got close to the railroad tracks.  The one side paralleled the road for a while so I always knew what was on that side.  The other side was somewhat hidden, so caution was always a good idea there.  After all, train versus car is not the way I planned to spend my Saturday evening.  Cross the tracks, after making sure they are clear, and drive to the turn off for South River Road.  A market by the same name occupied the intersection.  I stopped there many times to get worms for fishing or drinks, but not this time.  The road called.  I made the turn and kept driving.  I relaxed in the seat.

To my left, the swimming hole called ‘the ledges’ was empty.  It was warm, but not warm enough for swimming.  I drove past without slowing down.  The car hummed.  The road’s turns allowed me to cruise at a nice fifty-five miles an hour.  It was getting dark.  The headlights of oncoming cars gave me warning even in turns.  I slowed for a truck in front of me.  It turned soon after I came upon it.  I sped up again only to slow near Twin Falls where gravel covered part of the road. 

I sped up again only to slow down to make the turn onto Irish Creek Road.  There was no traffic, so I let my foot press on the gas to bring the car up to speed again.  I drove past what in later years became a favorite fishing hole.  I watched for deer and saw none.  It was not mating season, yet.  I felt the curves move me.  I feel the vibration of motor.  I hear the hum of motor and tires meeting the road.  I smile and sigh.  The road became gravel, and I slow slightly to avoid spinning out in some of the turns.  I continue driving into the night.

I think about the road and the car.  I think about speed and turns.  I listen to the sound of the motor.  I feel the road through the steering wheel.  I nudge the pedal and feel the result.  I smile.  Nothing exists except the road, the car, and me.  I feel free as the wind blows my hair.  It tickles my arms.  I breath in the air of farms and river and trees.  I move the steering wheel to avoid potholes.  I slow down and move to the edge of washboards.  I make sure to stay on Irish Creek as there are many roads that lead off of it.  One night when I was not paying close enough attention, I turned ended up on one of these roads and had to turn around.  I was almost late getting home that time which would have meant being grounded for a week or two depending on just how late.

Soon, GrantCemetery loomed in front of me.  I had to stop and make the turn onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I turned South toward Route 60.  I drove the Parkway at the posted speed even though I had already driven much faster on it.  I enjoyed the intermittent view of the cities lights below.  Buena Vista close and Lexington further away.  I drove until I reached the turn off.

I headed down the mountain, meeting more traffic along the way than in the earlier parts of my drive.  I carefully watched my speed since I knew the police liked to catch people as they came down off the mountain.  It was so easy to miss the speed change.  I came down into town with five minutes to spare.  I stopped at the stop light near Hardee’s, which was fairly new in town.  I turned onto Sycamore and drove to the other end of town.  I drove past the favorite turn around spot for cruisers as I headed home.  I pulled off the road and into our driveway.  I parked the car.  I turned off the motor.  I sighed as some of the tension returned.  I opened the door and got out.  “Thank you,” I said to the car patting its hood.

Welcome to Buena Vista

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I awoke this morning with many things on my mind.  When I sat down to write the same thing occurred.  So,…what to write?

I could write about giving my dogs flea baths.  I’ve never seen my pets have this many fleas.  Freya, my 16-year-old dog, was in the bath for so long that she needed help standing toward the end.  My son and I did her bath together.  He lifted her out when it was over.  She was very happy, and she slept better after the bath than she has in many days.  Thor endured his bath with his usual patience.  Then, he promptly when outside and rolled in the dirt.  *sigh*  At least he has much fewer fleas.

I could write about the three bushel baskets of tomatoes that my son and I picked the other day.  There are probably more down there waiting today.  We’ll take baskets down later.  The yellow and grape tomatoes are producing in abundance.  (I think we’ll be canning yellow tomato sauce.)  The Cherokee Purple tomato in the greenhouse has lots of babies.  No ripe ones lately.

I could also write about the wonderful carrots that are growing in the greenhouse.  About fifty of them will be ready to pick soon.  The parsley is also ready.  Nearby, the parsnips are just coming up.  The garlic isn’t showing yet, but it will soon.

I saw three deer the other day.  The one that was alone was a spike buck.  This is probably is first year with antlers.  He had four points.  He looked very proud of himself.  The other two deer were two females, probably a momma and her yearling.  They look healthy.  Momma will mate again this year.  Maybe she’ll have twin, again.

My first novel and its first sequel are complete rough drafts.  I’ve already written down ideas for the third in the set.  I’ll be working on revisions in the first one today.

There are a few short story writing contests I want to enter.  I’ll be writing for them today, also.  Speaking of short stories, I have a few that I’ll be sending to a local magazine for possible publication.

The sun is shining.  It’s expected to rain later.  Actually, rain is expected each day for the next six or so days.  Remnants of a hurricane.  I love the sun.  I love the rain.  A day with both is absolute perfection.

I found no salt potato chips in the store the other day.  A serving of them contains just 5 grams of sodium.  Since I enjoy foods with little salt, these chips were a wonderful find.

The tobacco plants are now about five feet tall and topped with many flowers.  Each seed pod will contain about two hundred plus seeds each.  Anyone want Virginia Gold Tobacco seeds?  I’ll have plenty to share.

I want to go down to the creek later.  I miss going out into our woods.  It’s very peaceful and gentle.  Maybe I’ll stick my feet in the water for a while.  I know the dogs will love it.

The Jerusalem artichokes are sporting their flowers, too.  They are lovely daisy-like flowers.  The plants are about seven to eight feet tall.  I love it when they flower.

The chickens are doing well.  They love the fenced area, especially since we added a tarp covered area and an old truck camper top on blocks.  Now, they have shade out there instead of just open field.  They love to catch whatever bugs come their way.  The eggs are great to have.

I still don’t know who I have for Yule/Christmas gift-giving since the names haven’t been drawn yet.  I was thinking about giving a painting this year, although my crocheted gifts are very popular.

My son just woke up to “I love you”, “Good morning”, and “Here’s a list of chores.”  His reply, “Thanks, mom.”  He’s outside now, relaxing and enjoying a cigarette.  (Much to my chagrin.)

We went to town yesterday.  The closest one to us has about five hundred or so residents.  The one stop light was busy that day with more traffic than I’ve seen in a while.  Of course, it’s a big yard sale weekend.  We saw signs for at least twenty yard/garage sales.  There were many in the parking lot of the locally-owned grocery store.  We didn’t stop at any of the sales.  My son stayed in the car with our dog, Thor, who loves to travel.  I did a little shopping and drove straight home.

I thought about taking some photos today, and I still might.  I think I’ll take some of the rain and clouds later.  Maybe, I’ll take a few of the rain from inside the greenhouse.  Who knows?  Some of the rain down near the creek might be nice, too.

Anyway, I’ve got coffee in my cup and some writing to do.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to focus a bit more.  I hope everyone has a blessed day.

 

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In the local town, there are two grocery stores.  One is a chain-owned store that is much larger than the family-owned one.  I much prefer the family owned store.

When I walk into the store, the cashier(s) is carrying on a conversation with the customer in front of them.  They talk about grocery prices, upcoming and missed sales, gas prices, how they’re feeling, and much more.  They are almost always smiling.

I turn right toward the produce section.  The lady in charge of this section is very knowledgeable.  She loves working her section of the store, and it shows.  She knows when fruit or vegetables are due to come in.  She is happy to purchase from local farms and orchards.  She loves to talk about how people’s gardens are doing.  The people who work produce with her admit they learn a lot from her.  She smiles often.

The meat section starts at the end of the cards which is at the end of produce.  The meat section wraps around the end of the store.  Some of the meats come in prepackaged.  Some they cut up themselves.  There are these long pork tenderloin chunks that are about eighteen inches long and about six inches wide.  The meat department workers are very happy to cut it to whatever width the customer requests.  The meat department never smells of fish or of meat unless they open the door to bring stuff out while someone is cutting.  They are extremely careful about cleanliness.  They have to be, of course.  But, these workers smile often too.

In the dairy section, the same man has been working there since long before I moved here sixteen years ago.  He talks with customers often.  He knows his section well.  He complains about rising milk prices along with his customers.  He, like the others, is a hard worker.  He also smiles.

The ladies in the deli work hard in hot conditions.  They keep the fried chicken ready.  They also keep various sides ready too.  The deli’s menu changes each day, except for the chicken, rolls, and corn bread.  Each day’s offerings are posted beside the front door where you can’t miss it.  Today, the second entrée was meatloaf.  The sides were potato wedges, green beans, corn, mashed potatoes & gravy, and cobbler.  The cakes and pastries in the case were tempting.  They ladies talked as they worked.  I heard one laugh out loud.  They were smiling.

Up at the cash register, the cashier saw me as I came up the bread aisle toward her.  She smiled.  We started talking before I even got there.  I put my items on the conveyor belt, and she started ringing things up.  We talked about the weather, my garden, her new puppy, and the excellent sale on cereal.  She called a bagger to the front, who smiled and asked, “Paper or plastic?”   He started bagging as I paid for my purchase.  The cashier handed me my receipt with a “Thank you, have a nice day.”  She was smiling.

The bagger walked with me out to my car.  This service is something the store has always had its baggers do.  In my opinion, it’s a service that other places could use.  Anyway, we talked about how he’s gotten a new, better paying job at another family-owned business in town.  This is his last week at the store.  He put my bags in the back of the minivan.  I wished him well at his new job and told him I’d miss him.  He smiled as he said, “Thanks, I’ll miss you, too.”

On my way home, I drove past the chain-owned store and didn’t even look to see what was on sale.  Good store, good people, good sales, good service.  I smiled, turned up my music, and drove on home.

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