Nov 7, 2006

Hearing the end from the end

I don't know how long that driveway was. There were longer. I'd been on longer and it didn't take that long to drive down the gravel, spitting up little triangle pieces and crunching other ones further down into the ruts.

The was a line of trees on either side. Trees that were red all year. They went a little brown on the edges in the fog of fall and the ground around them turned muddy in the rains, but they were always red. Red that looked like it was going sour.

The trees obscured the view. I couldn't see the end from the end.The slight turn in the driveway set the tree line in a slight turn that shortened the sight. I couldn't see. You couldn't see unless you were taller than the trees or shorter than them. I could lay on my belly under the trees and watch down most of the length and see feet or tires, if the grass happened to be short when I looked or if it all happened to be beaten down into chaff and mud. Other than that, I couldn't see and it made the long way seem longer.

I could hear, though.

The gravel, the gray peat gravel, was trucked in dark with sandy dirt that washed away, sifting down between the bits of rock, leaving nothing but the sharp edges. The gravel started in a middle color and then got darker with the rain. With the rain the rocks picked separate colors and every rock was shiny in subtle mystery colors.

I wondered once if they could be kept like that, if I could water them, if I could run the irrigation down the line tipping the water away from the trees to water the rocks so they'd shine. It wouldn't work though. The rocks started drying right away. The purples and the greens and the oranges and the yellows started fading immediately off into gray and the gray was all the same.

Once the rain had washed everything out and once the rain had dried away, the whole stretching driveway was gray in a single color. But even without the color there was the sound.

Before I could see anything, when what was coming was still too far away, I would look up. At first it was indistinguishable, that sound. I could hear the sound but I wouldn't be able to say there or there. It wasn't a sound even but I looked up. And then there it was.

Crunching - little bits of rock breaking against rocks, hundreds of small rocks smashing into each other and smashing down in the sound of grinding. Sliding, as the packed down earth, even hard after traffic and rain, still slipped, setting the pieces sifting. And others were caught up and spat behind the wheels. Each rock would flip off alone and then land in a spatter of little rearrangements. I would hear that, at first nothing and then the crunching and smashing and grinding, with the spitting and spattering of uncountable breaking gravel.

There was always a flashing choice, at the sound. I could run to see, letting them know I knew and wanted to know more. I could wait to see, letting them come to me, whoever they happened to be, knowing they were on their way but not who they were. Or, always the first thought, the thought that lasted longest because I was never sure why it was there at all, the thought, there is time to run away.

I would listen to the sound and look at the trees I couldn't see past and the sound would grow louder and the color of what was coming would show through the red leaves and I would be there, in the end of the long driveway.