Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Surreal Moment

The Middle River road runs north and south; I entered it from the north. It is seldom used, but it's a pleasant and peaceful drive. Along it, a small family farm has been raising impish miniature goats for years. Their milk is used to concoct a specialized soap. Ducks, going no place in particular, happily scoot and paddle around an algae-skimmed pond. Chickens are always pecking and scratching at the dirt searching for a bug or two for a snack. The road itself is a patchwork of potholes filled again and again with asphalt. Serpentine veins of jet black tar seals cracks caused by decades of expansion and contraction brought on as winter blends into spring. Trees keep squeezing closer and closer toward its middle leaving it with frail, skinny shoulders. Age-old oaks and maples stretch from side-to-side, forming a lush, shadowy canopy. Under low, dreary, rain-laden clouds, I journeyed through twilight at four in the afternoon. Windows rolled down, I could hear the puddles splash and the lilting voice of my favorite songbird -- the Wood Thrush.

Our rustic getaway is on a gravel trail intersects with the Middle River Road. As I passed the home of the curious little goats, I could see a dim glow emerging from the entrance of the drive. Gently, and in slow motion, a swath of light eased its way across the dark, wet pavement. Then, in an instant, the remaining veneer of translucent skies above vanished, and a clean-edged, laser-like beam flashed across the Middle River Road. I pulled over, shut down my vehicle, and quietly -- almost reverently -- sat marveling at the scene before me.

Were that the only natural, spiritual, and spectacular phenomenon - it would have been enough. When I got underway again and made my final turn toward the cabin - what I had just seen was merely the opening act. I was still in the thin tunnel of brilliant light, but over the river, not more than 50 yards away, the muted, moody skies released illuminated, shimmering, syncopated raindrops, and amid them was an iridescent arc of red, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

It was surreal.

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