Thursday, October 9, 2008

What Can You Do?

I drove through Wisconsin in the inky darkness of midnight.  The little town had an airport next to a Toro Mower Plant and a couple truck terminals.  The air was crisp and the leaves and longer grasses were thickly frosted.

I was supposed to pickup a new-to-us trailer and head on down the road to a load.  The trailers were on a grassy back lot without much light. They were clean and white, like ghosts lit only by a sodium light on a pole half way back to the terminal building. The outlines of former logos made grey splotches on each side and on the nose. 

Another driver pointed out the last trailer with a license plate; I hooked up.  Dispatch gave me a specific trailer number and told me the trailers were marked in small felt marker letters; I unhooked.  Slipping and slogging around on the frosty grass, I found one other plated trailer, but neither had my number.  Dispatch reassigned me to the trailer I had been hooked to; I re-hooked. 

I huffed long silver clouds of exasperation in the chilly air as I cranked the dollies back up.  "What can you do?" I asked my unconvinced self.  Something caught my eye and I looked up.  Up over the dark outlines of trees at the end of the yard.  Stars! 

Out here on the eastern edge of the prairie, in the boondocks, far from any city lights, stars crowded the sky.  Smaller, Dimmer stars and shades of galaxies textured a backdrop for major stars and constellations.  The sky was abuzz and a blaze.  I stood there staring, my head craned back on my neck.  Slowly turning around where I stood, I soaked them all in.  I thanked the stars for coming out and blessed the clouds for staying away. 

I had my answer.  The stars had shouted down "What can you do?"  What you can do is slow down and take a look; find the beauty. 

Cruising on into Minnesota, with a fresh attitude, a serenity, eyes wide open.  The sun broke through behind me, four deer and a majestic buck stood on a ridge over the other side of the highway.  I went by a field full of bison.  Later in the morning, a bald eagle soared over me as I found my exit. 

The most spectacular sight was over the Mississippi River.  To enter Minnesota from Wisconsin on I94, you go down into the river valley at Hudson.  South of the bridge is a wide swath of river surrounded by pine covered hills, fancy houses and marinas.  To the north the river narrows behind a larger marina and rows of boats swinging on moorings. 

In the cool just barely fall morning, the water was warmer than the air.  Opposite of springtime, the shallows along the river bank had cooled compared to the deeper waters holding onto summer's disappearing warmth.  As the cool air came down into the valley, a shallow fog skimmed off the banks.  In the center of the river, a great cloud rose up.

The cool air  swirled down into the valley like running down a drain.  The fog built a cloud in a roving oval.  The thin fog from the banks juts into the air and makes a bigger cloud; an upside down pile.  A column of fog piling up; quietly swirling and expanding into a compote shape.  An apparition, the Grail, in gossemer whisps, calling out to Arthur, but somehow lost on the edge of St. Paul rather than nearer to Camelot. 


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