“Let’s take a new way home from church,” I usually say to my husband in the summertime. I definitely don’t say this in the winter, when the New York roads are a glare of ice and hard-packed snow and I sometimes wonder if we can stay on the road. We have to drive down a five-mile-long winding hill to get to our house. At the top of this hill we once missed a frozen beaver, and another time we missed a carload of people standing in our lane. They were trying to figure out what to do about their car in the ditch. That time we drove into a field on purpose. The choice was inconvenient, but necessary.
It’s so much different in the summer. The deep blue sky and puffy white clouds beckon us to leave Christian Hollow Road and Route 417 and wander around, looking at the gorgeous Allegany and Steuben County scenery. Sometimes we come upon a view of a deep valley with misty hills and mountains beyond. Once we were able to see into Pennsylvania. These roads are often only dirt and have signs noting that they are seasonal. They will not be plowed in the winter.
One Sunday we drove slowly along a road new to us and suddenly came upon a grove of small trees or large bushes, all beautifully dressed in deep pink blossoms. “What are they?” I asked my husband. I had never seen anything like them. Don didn’t know, either. He broke off a branch and we carried the blossoms home. On Bible study night, we took the branch to church to see if anyone could identify it, but our friends had never seen anything like it before. Eventually a late-comer arrived and said, “Oh, you have a branch from a Sweet Pea Tree!”
Another Sunday we drove down a deep gully, arriving at the village of Whitesville, where we turned left and headed toward home. Not long after that, we passed a large swamp with thousands of white water lilies. There was no place to pull off, so I pushed the sight into my memory, while Don kept his eyes on the narrow road. I wanted so much to smell them, but it was too dangerous to stop.
Today we found another new road to travel and eventually drove through rain. When we got home it was raining too hard to get out of the car, so we sat and listened to Prairie Home Companion until the rain eased. Then we hurried into the house, filled large glasses with vanilla ice cream, poured diet root beer over the top and slowly sipped the treats.
I like looking at flowers along the road. I like rain. I like root beer floats. I love Sundays!