Friday, February 19, 2010


Yesterday when they were repaving our road to make it look more like a road than something out of Huck Finn, which is great for a road as a form of literature, I've got nothing against that, Mark is a man dear to my heart, but from the beginning of living up here I had to motorcycle that road early in the morning and late at night, which - apart from a couple of accidents due to the burden of residual youth - became no problem once my autopilot had memorized the road's quirks and pitfalls.

For lack of deep inquiry I had come to believe that the roadway (which is half ours as it passes our property) was the collective property of the original cooperative, and so would never be paved again in the history of the world unless the few of us living up here coughed up a few million yen each, which basically meant never, so I never asked.

But here it was all of a sudden being repaved (I'm now curious about how that came to be), the big dump trucks full of asphalt backing slowly up the steep grade (some with lady drivers!) past my window to get to where the pavers were starting to work near the top of the road; then the empty trucks would freeroll all the way back down along that enjoyably scenic curvy road, an infrequently used byway that was brand-new to the drivers and a lot of fun to zig and zag down along, especially when free after trucking all morning with a dead heavy load in back. It's like flying at that point, careening playfully down the long mountainside like a vertical Le Mans or something, which was what one of the drivers in the throes of the little-known 'unladen dumptruck rapture' finally did-- i.e., fly.

It was right where you most expect to fly when you're speeding down, by the last slow curve in the forest there, where the road suddenly opens from the trees to that tricky quick zigzag through the last of the lower paddies, which were laid out way back when, (a thousand years or more ago would be no surprise) and then not for the ease of a road at all, but for the ease of creating a paddy by hand out of the mountain landscape, so a thousand years later that fact might well be a problem for a bored truck driver having a bit of driving fun, so it was no real surprise that just after Echo left for the big village down south along the Lake she phoned me to say that a big truck had not zagged after the fifth zig and so had launched itself into the air over the first rice paddy on the right side of the road and had landed upside down in the middle of the second paddy on the right side of the road, and now the road was filled with police cars, workers, tow trucks and onlookers from all over who had come to see what happens when a truck flies down a mountain, and because of seat belt, air bag and soft paddy mud, it didn't look like anyone was hurt much.

Goes to show though that you just never know: some days, on some roads, are just like that truck, so no matter how professional you think you are, keep your hands on the wheel and enjoy the ride, but not too much; let your wishes fly if they want to, but follow the road.

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