Sunday, April 06, 2008

finding the lost highway....




Progress in our fast paced world is a twelve lane highway which allows us to get from point A to point B as fast as possible. Rarely is there anything to marvel at along the side of the straightaway but it doesn't matter really because the speed at which we are going doesn't afford us a chance to appreciate the journey anyways. Beginning to end.......lickety split! We have our music blaring, our hands free cell phones operating, and we are looking forward, forward, forward with our thinking and doing. Oh, that's fun isn't it? Personally, I love getting lost.

I don't know who penned this, but have always like it....."Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away." Driving on a straight and fast highway only allows for breathing. Taking a turn on a lost highway offers those moments which just may take our breath away. The true oxygen needed to stretch our minds is found on the bumpy potholed neglected little highways, which more often than not winds and bends along the shorelines where life is lived. It may take a lot longer to get from point A to point B, and sometimes we DO need to put our foot on the accelerator and get in the passing lane. But don't tell me there aren't days when you can afford to take the off ramp to find the serenity of a slower pace.


I don't live in a province where we have or need 12 lane highways, but I do live in one where the unwritten nickname is the "drive thru" province because most tourists zipping through New Brunswick are headed to Prince Edward Island or Nova Scotia..........both beautiful destinations. Our new highway system which was needed and is very welcome, is also so efficient that it lived up to the unwritten nickname. We are more of a "drive thru" province than ever before. Part of the old "Trans Canada highway," which theoretically links this huge country from east to west and back again sits comfortably just down the hill from home. In fact, I can see it from where I am writing this........through the trees between me and the Saint John River. I am very happy that all the transport trucks are gone........that the incessant noise of the highway when we first moved here has long gone. But I feel sorry for the tourist traffic in the summer who will miss the glorious beauty of one of the most scenic drives in this country.



My lost highway, which I treasure whenever i have a chance to travel it is what captivated me the first time I drove along it one early dawn many years ago......dotted with family run hotels, diners and fruit and vegetable stands........through the heart of the province where valleys of farmland met the shore of the ever changing river... where thriving sits next to poverty, where fresh paint rubs against the worn out lustre of not quite making ends meet......where village names represented both aboriginal and royalty........Nackawic, Penniac, Pokiok, Prince William, Sheffield, Jemseg, Fredericton, Lake George...... where unusual little businesses sat along the side of the highway in an unassuming way that you may just miss it the first time around because your eyes were on the road AND taking in life across the lane on the other side ........ where I watched the sunrise from my driver's seat while listening to Mark Knopfler's soundtrack from the movie Cal.... not knowing at that point I would end up settling here .... I was captivated by the feel and the look. I felt like I had discovered a place that had the potential to take my breath away often. Ironically, my first trip along that road was a drive thru trip.......we were on our way to Nova Scotia. But, the feeling I had ........ the sense I felt that I could easily live here permeated in a way that obviously formed the option in my thinking, which in turn became a reality.



I must add however, that there were MANY times when the old highway was a right pain in the arse. The frustration of getting behind a long convoy of Winnebago pressured even the most patient person. The incessant noise of the traffic used to impact our home life (we bought our house knowing the new highway was being built and the noise was only temporary). But as I drive the same stretch now, I am saddened by the loss. The little family run motels are mostly boarded up. Some have turned into residential spots for people living in poverty. The diners and general stores have disappeared. One of the most predominant produce stands, run by a local family for many years is up for sale. Who knows what will happen to it? People are too darn busy and too darn focused on the destination to care about life and learning along the shorelines.



There should be signs on the big efficiently boring Trans Canada that scrapes through the scraggy brush of this province away from the natural beauty of the land of the living that point the way to another route. They need to say something more than just "scenic route" because so much MORE happens when we discover the lost highway........we can rediscover ourselves. We can rediscover what is important in our lives because the lost highway is where the heart dwells. And if we can connect to the heartland, we will be left breathlessly smiling many times over.


ps. I've included these three photos which I have taken over the past year....samples of the beauty along the lost highway near me........ now how can this place be a drive thru province?

This week's prompt at Writer's Island is lost highway.........travel a few more by clicking HERE.

10 comments:

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Beautiful! And I so get it, Dana.
There are many 'lost highways', or the metaphor FOR them....
You know, being confined as I have been for these last three years has had it's up side as well as the down sides. The appreciation for what is right here around me---close at hand, that maybe I never really saw before---Many things that "take your breath away"....And I might not ever have stopped long enough to SEE these things---I mean, REALLY see them....
I LOVE that quotation too, and I don't know who said it, either!

Lovely and important words today Dana. Thank you!

A Question: Are the Summers there where you live as beastly as the winters? Or is it a real respite from the contstant snow and cold? I cannot believe you still are getting snow...! (Though I realize it's not that unusual...) Are the summers very Humid?
Just wondering and hoping your answer will be: "The Summers Are Perfect!" LOL!

BreadBox said...

I love the old transcanada highway between Fredericton and Woodstock --- I hitchhiked between Woodstock and King's Landing every day for months one summer (and wasn't late for work once!): I'd always get a ride to Nackawick, and then another from there to (walking distance to) King's Landing.
And once I walked in the middle of the night after a party, from Fredericton to King's Landing. Tiring, and I'd never recommend I do it again, but I love the fact that I did it!

Last spring I drove up as close to that old route as I could find: made me very nostalgic indeed.

N.

BreadBox said...

Oh, and Naomi, the summers in New Brunswick are perfect!

Awareness said...

Naomi....I feel the same about my move from "busy bustling Toronto" years ago to the Maritimes...the pace allows more opportunity to pace oneself. I know it's been foisted on you because of your health issues so it is very different, but in some ways a similar headspace maybe?
I couldn't go back to the busyness where lost highways aren't even considered.

FYI, this time last year? There was NO snow, though my son keeps reminding me that we had a freak storm near the end of April. May last year was beautiful....I had my pansies etc planted the first weekend. Normally, the big gardening weekend in this part of the world is the long weekend in May (around the 21rst)

And Breadbox is right...the summers are PERFECT here. :)

N. I'm so glad you caught this post.....had hope so. You worked at Kings Landing? They had a maple syrup weekend last weekend.......lots of sap running and boiling etc.

It is a lovely jaunt.

Whitesnake said...

Sometimes we come across places that are so surreal and yet perfect..........

Then along come tourists!

Rambler said...

many a journeys, the drive thru places are the ones which makes the destination worthy..

tumblewords said...

Beautifully and thoughtfully penned! I live in an area like that - the beauty has been turned over for speed and starter castles. There's still one little road where I can slowpoke while looking at goldenrod, wild turkeys, an occasional deer and such. I appreciate it more every year. Your part of the country is absolutely gorgeous!

Under there... said...

Wonderful post. I need to print it out and put it on the 'fridge. Everyone does indeed need a lost highway. Cathy Johnson in "On Becoming Lost" said, "There is an art to wandering. If I have a destination, a plan--an objective--I've lost the ability to find seredipity...I search for the Holy Grail of particularity and miss the chalice freely offered,filled full and overflowing."

OneMoreBeliever said...

absolutely love getting lost... tho at times im sure it annoys my passengers taking excursions that werent part of the plan... thrz nothin like going for a ride...

BreadBox said...

Yup, summer of 81 I spent in NB at King's Landing. One of the best summers of my life!
I spent the mornings transcribing historical documents (mainly store ledgers and the like), trying to get a picture of life at that time: the afternoons I was in costume in the general store.
A wonderful place --- unfortunately they weren't open last year while I was around, so I didn't get to go around again. One day.

N.