Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Nobody Ever Told me it Would be Like This!



Everyone I know is learning to drive this year – my cousin Sharon, my friend Ruth, my colleague Jennifer.  Even my seven year old nephew Jakobi has been begging for driving lessons.  So I may as well also join that esteemed rank.  I announce my proposal to my youngest sister Shirley who’s been driving for years.  Shirley agrees, but nobody ever told me learning to drive would be like this!
We get ready right after supper and lucky for me we’re in the season of slow summer sundowns.  “Can I come along, I’ll sit in the back,” begs Danaea, a third grader who lives next door.
“Sure, why not?”  Quick as a bunny, she hops on and we drive to the orchard, Shirley, Danaea and me.  Shirley sits in the driver seat, in case we meet someone on the way!
We switch seats at the first apple tree.  For the first round or three, Shirley’s instructions aren’t overly specific or lengthy.  Perhaps she’s too busy dodging, being swayed this way and that…
Anyway, nobody ever told me a road could be so narrow!  The orchard road is more like a fox trail than a road.  Well, twin trails with a wide swath of portulaca growing in between.  Is it even possible to keep the tires on those thin paths? On further analysis, I decide it must have been made with bike tires in mind, skinny speed bike tires, in fact!  That road has some straight sections, but I’m constantly having to turn left, right, left, right again, narrowly missing some, but not all of the natural features along the way! 
And the turns!  Nobody ever told me they could be so sharp!!  And they appear when you least expect them.  I grip the steering wheel as we approach a corner, start turning and turning and turning.  We make the turn just in time and keep turning – in circles, even though we’re already on the straight road.  Wordlessly and a bit breathlessly, Shirley grabs the steering wheel and whips us back onto the road again.  It’s a good thing I brought her along, or else, who knows how long I’d be spinning in circles.
Neither did anyone ever mention that there could be so many obstacles beside the orchard road!  Why ever would anyone make a road alongside the La Salle River with just inches between the road and the river?  So treacherous! Luckily I missed that obstacle.  I’m all for going green, but I wouldn’t want to go swimming in algae, even if I could swim. 
There are trees along one stretch.  Fortunately we miss most of them, but unfortunately ram into an apple tree.  Just one!  It whips back and forth in unison with our heads, like a wheat field during a tempest.  I guess there’ll be a few less apples to pick in autumn.  Hmm, maybe I should suggest this picking technique to the apple pickers.   
And the cornfield?  They may as well have planted that crop in the middle of the road! Let’s just say that first row wasn’t quite so lucky!  “We’re scraping the first row of corn,” Danaea warns from the back, anxiously hugging the rail opposite the cornfield.  We whip by, shaving off several sturdy stalks that tumble like a nudged row of upended dominoes.  It’s a good thing we’re growing fields and fields of them, I appease myself.  They shouldn’t miss that row. 
“Even though the road appears straight,” Shirley finally finds her voice, “you still have to gently turn from side to side periodically so you don’t displace the entire landscape.  If you turn a bit to the left, you have to turn that much to the right.  And… whatever you do, don’t over compensate!”
“Now you tell me!” I retort.
“Time for you to learn how to reverse,” Shirley suggests.
Reverse?! I’m just barely staying in the middle of the road going forward!” I mumble to myself.
“Okay,” I obediently reply, stepping on the brake at the corner. 

 A few days later my friend comes for a visit. “Catherine, do you want to take Elma on her next driving lesson?” Shirley asks hopefully.
“Why?” Catherine asks.
“Nobody ever told me teaching someone to drive would be like this.”

Please note: This story is loosely based on a true happening.