I would sit at the end of my black-topped driveway, nudging pill bugs with skinny sticks and wiping sweat from my brow, afternoon upon afternoon. There was always an ambient soundtrack running--bird calls, a solitary dog barking, someone beating out a rug on their front porch. But the one that always caused me to lift my head and notice, really notice, was the sound of the '67 Chevy, backing slowly out of the wood framed garage and into the gravel driveway. It was that sound, the crunch of rock under slow moving tires, that stopped me short and still.
Mr. Kauffman did everything deliberately, slowly, with intention. He cut his grass with an old fashioned push mower, the kind motored only by human muscles and blades that whirled and spun, grass pieces flying up like so much confetti. With each turn and switchback he made, laced throughout the smell of moist green and shredded leaves, there trailed sweet and musky pipe smoke, a ribbon of grey fluttering behind him.
It made sense, then, that he would pull out of his driveway with a similar pace and purpose. And the result was a perfectly magical crackle that felt like time suspended.
I now live at the end of a long, gravel driveway, seemingly fashioned from the broken fragments left from when our stone house was built all those hundreds of years ago. Splintered limestone litters the car path, spraying dust into the nearby grass during the dry times, puddling gray and milky after the rain.
And it is still that sound, today, that slow, crackling pop of stone beneath rubber, that stops me short, draws my face to the window, tickles the corners of my mouth and makes me sigh content.
For now, that sound is more like a herald to me, signaling that subtle shift of day when the sun slants keenly and dinner smells waft through cracked windows and young boys shout and run for the door.
I take more gravel roads than paved these days, it seems. That's how it goes living outside of the city limits. The blacktop can only reach so far, you know. Driving to visit friends brings crunching rocks and flying dust and the requisite slower pace.
And as I putter down their private roads and winding driveways, I can't help but wonder if the sound of my coming evokes the same thrill in their bellies as it does in mine. Does the sound of crunching gravel sing a song of home to them?
This is my first attempt at Concrete Words, an exercise in "writing out spirit" by writing about the invisible using concrete words. This week's word is The Road. The idea is to use the word prompt as a catalyst for writing out what is around us. Amber Haines of the RunaMuck began this exercise and she has now turned over the curating to my beautiful friend, Nacole. If you would like to join this community of word weavers who are attempting to use their words to tell a deeper story, hop over here to link up your piece.
Photo credit: Wolf Lake Landing Road by andyarthur on flickr