How easily we take for granted the routines that we allow ourselves to adapt to. What a fuss the slightest change can make.
Every morning I drive the same route to the office. Each day I see sometimes the same scenario play before my eyes and on some days, a different scenario. Sometimes I notice things I had not noticed before, and am reassured in my world when I see the same thing day after day.
At the risk of seeming compulsive, I pick up my silver flask from the floor in front of the door to my garage, where I habitually leave it after filling it full of boiling water every morning. At the bottom of my internal stairwell I unlock the door to my integral garage and fumble for the light switch. After illumination I ease my way around the front of my large car, which is tightly parked, to the up-and-over garage door at the front of my house. It always sticks when I raise it so I give it an extra thrust as needed and hear it grind into place. I really must spray it with a silicon spray to make it easier to raise it!
The harsh beep of the park-assist facility helps me to ensure I reverse the car straight out of the garage. It is too tight a fit for me to be careless, which could prove expensive. Once on the drive I straighten out the side mirrors and lock the car. From the inside, I secure the garage and leave the house through the front door. As always, I double lock it and give it a push to ensure it won’t give way to some intruder – knowing full well that they would probably not choose the front door as a first option to break into my home. It works for me!
On a sunny day, I reverse the car off my driveway, checking the front door is closed, and drive off to the junction, giving myself the pleasure of checking out my own and my neighbours’ gardens. It is always a pleasure to see so many beautiful flowers and shrubs. (There are not many of those in the office in which I work.) I drive off to the by-pass for my daily journey.
Before the by-pass was built, I used to travel along a narrow road, on one side of which, at the end, (or beginning if you approach in the opposite direction) of a double bend, stands an old horse-trough. I really like that horse-trough. I do not have a horse, but that is unimportant. What is important is that the horse-trough still exists. The metal crown at the top of the structure has somewhat disintegrated, but that only adds to its character. Its facade is made of stone and brick, housing a stone sink with a metal fitment which ejects water that once fed thirsty horses.
The structure reminds me of days gone by when no-one dashed off to work in a car but took the slow, picturesque route along a narrow, winding road, listening to the clip-clop of the horses’ hooves. Horse-riding and horses and carts have, sadly I say, passed into the world of leisure; no more are they a necessity for transport.
My thoughts pull me back to my journey along the by-pass, but I miss seeing the horse-trough on my daily ride.
When it was new and unknown the by-pass was convenient and easy to access. Over a year later, the whole world knows about it and it is as busy, at times, as most urban roads. Happily, I do not need to traverse the whole distance via the main road. Once off the by-pass I travel along the road edging a housing estate.
The housing estate is huge but it is bordered by a wide stretch of grassed verge. There are small groups of trees dotted about and their foliage changes throughout the seasons. I have enjoyed photographing one particular group of trees through all four seasons. The winter snow, spring daffodils, beautiful summer green leaves, and magnificent winter skeletons are all etched in my memory forever. I know I will miss watching the passing of the seasons in that spot, especially autumn, when I retire and no longer need to make my daily journey.
Onward, past the housing estate, I drive through the town, passing the spot at a mini-roundabout where a driver beat up the rear end of my last car with her carelessness as she failed to notice that I was at a full stop allowing a parent and child to cross in front of me. I bristle with annoyance momentarily and continue my journey, passing the small shops, which are not yet busy because it is only eight forty-five or thereabouts.
I drive over a level crossing, ever thankful that the gates are not lowered, hoping that they work and that a train is not on its way to push me along the tracks to my doom. Of course they work and I make it to the other side quite safely. A short hop takes me toward the traffic lights that must turn green to allow me to drive over the canal bridge toward a small village which will signify that I have almost reached my destination.
Once over the canal bridge, with a quick glance to either side to enjoy the view, I head on, watching out for the elderly gentleman I see each week, riding his disability scooter back toward the town, probably to do his shopping, or maybe visiting friends. I spot him, and raise my hand to greet him. I do not know if he sees it. I just know that when I see him I am always relieved that he is well. There was an occasion when I did not see him for weeks and feared the worst, so much so that when I did finally see him, I always wept with relief. I do not even know who he is so I cannot imagine why I would react that way.
Maybe it was because he was a small but significant part of my day. I mean it kindly that no matter who or what, every element of my journey to work is like a small part in the cog of the wheel of my life. Something human in it, on a daily journey with no-one in the car with whom I could have a conversation. Maybe that is how we human beings work. We take contact from strangers, with whom we will never have a conversation, when we sit watching the world go by from a seat in the park or at the seaside. The conversation is unimportant, but the visual contact is.
I always watch out for the man on the scooter, even when I give a lift to the office to a colleague who lives nearby. I see many odd sights on my way to work and wonder at their significance. I once spotted a rabbit which did not move even when I parked the car and walked right up to it. Unfortunately it was quite ill, and just looked down at the ground, not caring that I was so close to it. It was so sad.
After leaving the village I am obliged to cross a dual carriageway which has a divided area in the centre of which I can park safely before driving onto the opposite side of the carriageway.
The traffic can be quite insane in the morning, just before nine o-clock. Cars race madly along, passing me from the left. I can become impatient when there is a car whose driver needs half a mile of space prior to driving onto the carriageway.
‘Go! Go! Go!’ I shout to the driver. I can’t bear sitting behind a hesitant driver, but I hold my horses until they go. Once onto the carriageway I head off to the left turn onto the campus, my ultimate destination. I slow at the speed ramps and make my way to the car park. There are two. I try for a space in the car park nearest the office, and if I cannot find a place to park, I have no alternative but to drive back along the road to the larger car park. I console myself with the thought that I will at least have a bit of exercise before I return home after sitting at a computer all day.
I am at my journey’s end. I wonder what I will see when I return home later?
How was your journey to work today?
© VW Selburn 2014