Odometers, unpaved roads, and tire wear
“Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me. I want people to know why I look this way. I’ve traveled a long way, and some of the roads weren’t paved.” Will Rogers said that, and I agree. I have invested a considerable portion of my travels searching out unpaved roads. Or at least roads less traveled.
Fall is upon us. All around my house, spiders are making webs. Soon they will decorate the nooks and crannies with balls of future baby spiders.
A large brown one rebuilds daily the 24-inch diameter orb that, fortunately, is parallel to the front door. At the back of the house, near the kitchen window, a tiny black arachnid with a large – compared to the size of the actual spider – spiked black and white backpack harvests a variety of flies. Others, too numerous to describe here but lots of fun to collect “on film” peacefully coexist across the corners where the walls meet the overhangs.
Trees are beginning to change colors. Their leaves died weeks ago after processing chlorophyll, sunshine and nutrients drawn in sap from the ground to feed the branches. Now the leaves are losing their green tinge, revealing myriad shades of reds and yellows before they turn finally brown to fall to compost into soil, thus completing the life cycle that gives us shade, collects dust from the air we breath, and controls the flow of, this year, humungous quantities of water.
Look at the damage from Hurricane Florence where trees have been replaced by houses, shopping malls and the paved roads connecting them. Of course, there is water around the trees that remain, but much of it is not fit for swimming or drinking, polluted as it is from hog farm runoff, engine oils, and tire rubbings – the latter being what happens to our vehicles’ tread as we roll them from the shiny new tread to the wear bars.
I was raised in Maine, about two hours into the north woods as measured from the nearest large coastal town. I spent much of my time wandering in thousands of acres of woodland, not realizing the treasure in the bugs, birds and other critters I spent time watching.
There was little other choice of pastime; I did not have a driver license until I was 18 and a few thousand miles from home. But in terms of gasoline and tire rubbings, I set about making up for lost time contributing to the situation now being experienced by residents of North and South Carolina.
I have owned nearly a dozen vehicles in my driving career, and worn out each in turn. I admit to a preference for unpaved roads, but also it is true that most of my driving, as for most of us, has been atop layers of asphalt and concrete.
A few years ago, expensive repair bills looming, I traded my four-wheel-drive gasoline company supporter for a not-much-smaller, all-wheel-drive vehicle – it is comfortable for a fellow of my proportion, ekes half-again the miles from a gallon of gas, and takes me to any trail head I can imagine.
It will not haul a yard of gravel or a dozen bales of hay. There was a time in my travels when those traits were valuable but those days are history.
I met a couple of young people this week who are very enthusiastic about fixing some of the mess we have been making. I would like to make their jobs, and the lives of the trees, spiders and other critters, including us, a little easier.