Seasons in northern New England never change gradually. One day its sunny and warm with people walking the beaches in shorts and t-shirts and then, within minutes, the winds of autumn empty the beaches by becoming one large sand blower that scrapes the skin off one’s body and the hair off one’s head. These same winds also pull the leaves from the trees and basically rearrange our tidy little world.
This happened to me the other day as I drove off to an appointment. The day before was beautiful and warm. Because of this I wore a short-sleeved shirt and didn’t bother to wear a jacket. I was hoping this would be the year summer would last forever. Once again I was wrong.
As I walked into my garage I heard the wind howl. I hadn’t heard that sound since last March but I thought it was time for a little bit of interesting weather. As soon as I left my garage I knew I was right.
Backing out of the driveway was like backing into a wind tunnel. I swear my truck left the ground for a couple of microseconds because everything started to float a few inches in the air. Since I drive a truck I always assumed that I was in a heavy enough vehicle to hold the road. After driving onto my lawn and into my once-standing mailbox I knew I was wrong.
Driving down my road was like driving through an intergalactic battle scene from an old “Star Wars” movie. My truck was attacked by hundreds of red, yellow, and brown leaf-like star fighters that swarmed on my windshield hoping to block my vision and thus have me drive into the ditch or one of my neighbor’s mailboxes. I chose the latter.In the midst of the wind and the leaves I could see multiple missile-like giant twigs smash onto the side and hood of my now beleaguered truck. Halfway down my road I noticed the attack leaves were replaced by flying projectiles of garbage. I didn’t even know it was garbage day. Empty cardboard boxes and old newspapers wrapped my truck like a giant poorly-wrapped Christmas present.
I did what I knew I had to do. I jammed down on the accelerator and flew past the flying debris only to meet up with what had launched the garbage in the first place. My truck was now being pummelled with empty plastic garbage cans painted with large numbers and half- filled recycling bins that fell under my tires hoping that the empty glass bottles would finish the attack that the leaves and other garbage had failed to do.
The trees surrounding the road bombarded me with leaves and stems. Their thinning branches looked like old and powerful fingers trying to catch me as I drove down the road. A couple of times I thought they almost caught me because one of the dark wooden fingers exploded on the now-creased front fender of my truck.
For the rest of the trip down Route One my eyes were glued to the front windshield. The knuckles of my hands were white because I held the steering wheel as though my life depended on it. At this point in my life I knew it did.
The wind continued to blow in all directions. The trees looked as though they were being torn from the ground and at any minute I thought I would see a cow fly past, or at least one of the witches or Toto from “The Wizard of Oz”.
Working my way to Route 95 I once again noticed there were few other vehicles on the road. As I stared into my windshield I glanced at my rearview mirror only to observe many pairs of lights heading toward me. Even though I was cruising at a strong pace these lights came closer and closer until I noticed that they seemed to be a lot higher off the ground than ordinary lights.
Then I knew that the lights were not the lights of ordinary cars or trucks. They were the lights of giant 16 wheelers cruising down the road knowing that they could go as fast as they wanted because no one was foolish enough to attempt to drive in this storm. I think stupid would have been a better term.
Within 30 seconds I was in between four giant trucks. One was in front of me, two were on both sides of me, and the fourth was behind me. I felt as though I was some sort of dignitary being surround by a giant army of guards. I also knew that if I swayed off my lane I would be squashed like a gnat and the trucks that did the squashing would never know what they did.
For the remainder of my voyage my eyes were stuck wide opened and my hands became one with the steering wheel. All I did was stare into the windshield praying that I could become the little truck that could.
For some miraculous reason I made it to my destination. As I made it up to the front door I read a small sign that was taped to the door. It read: “Due to horrendous conditions the building will be closed today”
Knowing I had to survive the ride home I took a deep breath and drove out of the parking lot. Looking into my rear view mirror I noticed that I took out another mailbox. This one belonged to the building.
Lashing through the hazards of our autumn world by Jim Fabiano.
Jim Fabiano is a retired teacher and writer living in York, Maine