On a High Muddy Road
By Karlene Bayok Edwards
In Long Valley, springtime is a patchwork of snowbanks, abandoned and crusty, curling under to reveal last summer’s dried grasses. Pussy willows in their silvered furs venture out, and plump mountain chickadees in black waistcoats gleefully cry dee, dee, dee from still-bare aspen branches. Warm air speeds the snowmelt running from the hillsides, overflowing creek beds and spilling onto country roads, turning them into juicy black mud. Even so, we high-schoolers can’t wait to get outdoors and drive into the countryside, up in the hills, out of the house, out of the classroom, out of our parents’ hair.
Four of us, Pam, Nancy, Barb, and I, head out in Nancy’s father’s station wagon. We have no idea where we’re going, just out, away, anywhere else but where we are. Barb’s leg is covered top-to-bottom in a cast but she’s up for anything. She tosses her crutches in back with our unneeded jackets and props her immovable leg on the seatback in front of her. The car fills with music on the radio and our laughter at nothing, at everything, joins in. The windows are wide open and all we know is we’re headed uphill toward springtime.