I had the rare privilege to grow up on a farm in eastern Idaho. The roads there were laid out in one mile blocks with large tracts of land in between. Occasionally yellow haystacks shaped and stacked like building blocks would inhabit a corner of a field here or there. I lived in a brick house next door to my Aunt and Uncle, and my grandparents lived ¾ of a mile to the west on the family dairy, where my Uncle Stan worked every day. He would drive that road many times a day, very slowly in his pick-up truck.
All that space just begged to be explored by a lone girl with an old dirt bike. What you must understand, however, is that I am by nature a quiet and private person (despite what this blog would suggest). Back in grade school, I was also shy to the point of extreme awkwardness. It took me a long time to realize what actions or words would lead to ridicule or even just confirmation of my oddities to other people. (As in this blog post). Anyway, I would love to go bike-riding, but would hate to run into anyone on the road. I was not there for the people, but for the rush of the wind on my skin or the smell of the green alfalfa in my nose. I assure you there is no greener smell. My memories of beautiful childhood sunsets are inseparably mingled with the smell of freshly hewn alfalfa and the spurt-spurt-spurt of the hay’s giant sprinkler systems. If only I could catch the scent and shoot it over to you blog-style. But I digress. I would often see my Uncle turn onto the long and straight dirt road just as soon as I’d gotten onto it. Once that happened, it was either a rush for my destination (can you hear the whirr-whirr-whirr of my pedals?) or what I will call the “scared bunny rabbit” approach.
“Scared bunny rabbit” involved me quickly pulling off the side of the road and ditching my bike in the gutter. I would then leap onto the dirt berm through the weeds and into the alfalfa hay or grain field. Once there, I faced a grim difficulty: one cannot just walk through the field in a normal way without leaving a tell-tale trail. The plants will be trodden down. Besides, no farmer wants their grain/hay ruined by careless steps. So, it was a gazelle-like bound out into the middle of nowhere. Now, fields look flat, but that is lie. There are always lower patches. I would inevitably gazelle into one and nearly kill myself as my hip joints locked under me. If I fell, I would wisely choose that spot to lay low until my Uncle passed. His slow drive always seemed to get faster during my flight. That is, until I was lying on my stomach on the sun-cracked dirt, then it seemed that he drove with interminable slowness. If I felt vulnerable, then I would attempt an army-crawl to a thicker patch of crop, but this is dangerous without a good gazelle under you.
I wonder now what my Uncle thought about my bike sitting on the side of the road. I am, of course, certain that he saw me gazelle, and knew right where I ended up in his field. Once, he stopped and did not get going again. I began to contemplate the likelihood of an army-crawl escape about a hundred yards away to the six foot fence around my back-yard. The man sired eight children. I clearly did not give him enough credit. True story. I did all this and more in my wayward youth. By the way, no moral.