Because things are tough today, I turn right instead of left out of the faculty lot. I’m thinking, maybe a different road will offer some perspective, or at the very least, time to gather myself.
The two-lane road I take toward the ridge was once likely much narrower than the ribbon you see curling past the hill in the shot above.
Though I know this terrain — I’ve run this hill, and I’ve come this way once or twice before — it still catches me off-guard. Feels strange. Perhaps it’s because this stretch of land, despite the nearby university and all the homes strung along the road ahead, still manages to retain some of the character the land here in East-Central Ohio may have held half a century ago.
The power lines carry a lot of meaning. They suggest community. They knit together those who make their homes out here with those who’ve settled in town. In severe cold, I’ve heard the wires can snap. Today, warm as it is, they sweep over the winter-wasted grass.
I park on the shoulder and take three or four different shots standing in the middle of the road. No one drives past, and I’m still the road’s lone occupant when I reach the city limits sign two winding miles farther along.
The houses I pass along toward town are miraculous. Most have been built into the northern slope of the ridge. The road wears a guardrail girdle to protect these homes from wayward drivers.
Near town, I catch sight of one of the same kind of large containers some lawn care companies fill with liquid lawn fertilizer and strap to a flatbed. Someone has written on the side of the container; I have to double back and pull onto the shoulder again to make sense of what’s written in streaking red-painted letters.
I carry the sign’s warning, and all the questions it raises — what’s at stake? Does someone wish to protect property or to help others avoid harm? — all the rest of the way home.