A place for thought.

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The Old Truck

The old truck chugs up the hill in low gear. The way this old pick-up was put together it runs more like a tractor. In first gear the ratio of engine rotations to the turning of the rear wheels is so low the engine races at walking speed and the straight six-cylinder motor just increases in torque as the load increases. Making it to the top of a hill is never in question. Going fast enough on the highway to keep from getting run over is another thing altogether. A nineteen fifty one Chevrolet three quarter ton step side with three back windows, two front, two roll down side panes and if you count the vent wings, nine pieces of glass to view the world through. She has big fenders showing on the sides of the step-side bed and a fifteen-inch wheel and tire bolted to her side. Thin, simple chrome bumpers, not just for show, but capable of pushing something; all in all a practical machine made for work.
As she clears the hill I push in the clutch and move the lever beside me all the way to the right and away from the bench seat skipping second gear and going for broke with third. The thick sheet metal and steel beam frame will do more to pull us down the hill anyway. We drop like a rock; the only thing slowing progress now is my fear of rolling off the narrow road on a sharp turn. I grab the oversized steering wheel with both hands and concentrate on the familiar road as it unfolds ahead; my favorite set of turns approaches. The road levels just a bit and then; right a quarter turn, then to the left, then the right again. I can see three or four turns in front of us. I put the truck into the perfect line and keep my foot off the brake. A slight squeal at the apex of each turn and in the final turn, before the two-lane road casts off its curves, the rear wheels wash out just a little. I push on the accelerator petal to pull them back behind me. Before us a straight line of black asphalt cuts through the rolling hillsides covered with golden grass. Black cows and red cows, each followed by their newly hatched portable milkers look up from their constant meal and watch us pass. The calves bang heads on the small utters just to see if there’s any more in there. We turn off the pavement and slow for the pot holes in the two tracks of packed dirt that lead to a small, white wooden house with a tall roof and wide front porch.

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A light fog filled the low spots in the two-lane road. The small car fell into the fog and millions of tiny drops covered the windshield. Every time the car punched it’s way out a swish of the wipers restored perfect clarity until the next valley.
First the quiet seemed held captive in a bubble of moisture and then the clear black sky, in sharp contrast, revealed far away stars. A universe of one and a universe of billions as the road moved up and down across the foothills.