"I will choose a place where the snakes feel safe.
All day I will love that remote country.
At times I will climb the peak of its lonely mountain
To stay and whistle until the sky grows cold."
- W. S. Merwin
I was over-thinking the things I learned on the road. I learned that a bare flat horizon of badlands feels much lonelier than mountains and places where the sky is very busy. I was trying to figure out why I like mountains better than open prairies. Then I remembered. I’m not a rugged cowgirl or mamma bear or other stoic frontier type. I’m a city girl who is trying to learn how to grow tomatoes.
The neat thing about the trip was that conversation was eclectic, thought-provoking and intermittent. Sometimes, we’d ride in silence for an hour. Or sometimes we’d have shorthand conversations: Need coffee? Pee alert level yellow! Look a squirrel! Mom! Stop wasting film on neon signs! (I have, in addition to low-battery anxiety, a need to take pictures of places. This often means taking pictures of signs. It was a road trip and we spent more time on the roads than doing tourist stuff. And yes, my biggest regret was not stopping at the SPAM museum. Probably the last chance this lifetime...)
At one of the silent, contemplative times, my train of thought was brought to a screeching halt as I was once again amazed by the scenery. Instead of seeing the Rastafarian rat - who presumably is a poor speller, and who presumably lives beneath the red neon sign above - I saw this manifestation of a certain copyrighted mouse whose iconic presence was a big part of my childhood.
The Disneyfication of legends and nursery rhymes seems far away driving through America in late November. Yet, when I saw this apparition in the sky, I couldn’t help but feel safe. Sort of like the bat signal only different. Mickey calling me home to SoCal. I’m hoping my snakes feel safe here too, because I’m sticking around.