Friday, September 23, 2011

Games of Time

Or, "I figured it out!"

A friend of mine and I had a conversation the other day about having to make the same long drives over and over.  She was telling me that it's easier for her to stay awake if she has someone to talk to.  I don't have that luxury for my daily commutes.  It's just me.  Entertaining me.

Part of what I do is pay attention to the things around me, make up stories for them to entertain myself, or just make mental notes of changes and see if I can figure out what's going to happen next.

One of my ongoing games is trying to catch up to the shiny rounded metal 18 wheeler with the red word "Dyke" across the mirror like back, that drives my route frequently.  It's always in front of me and traveling fast enough not to catch.  (So far.)  It's wrong of me, but I'll admit that I'm dying to see the driver.  One day.  One day I will know what the driver looks like.  (I like to set little goals.)

Another game I play with myself is noticing the other drivers and vehicles around me.  I love reading people's bumper stickers.  I can't help but wonder, when the bumper is REALLY covered in them, what it's got to be like when they get ready for resale.  Will they find a buyer who goes, "Oh man!  I have GOT to have those bumper stickers!  They are SPOT ON with how I feel about (fill in the blank)!"  Will the current owner scrape them all off before they put it up for sale?  Will it take the paint with it if they do?  Or will the new owner think, "Man, the -first- thing to go are going to be those stupid bumper stickers."

I'm equally fascinated with license plates that are not from Alabama.  I like to make up stories for their owners.  Sometimes, I envision the driver is in the military living at the local base and out to visit a local craft fair.  Sometimes, I pretend that they're here visiting family they haven't seen in a while and it was a wonderful reunion with lots of tears when it was time for them to pack up and head back home.  Sometimes, I smile as I think they might be going on a tour of the United States.  They just checked the only monument to a bug off their list as they head to the world's largest Onion festival.

People and Animals are not immune to my passing fancies.  There is a young Hispanic woman who walks towards oncoming traffic every morning.  She always has a little paper bag in one hand.  I think that she is headed to work on the south side of town and taking her lunch with her.  I make up what she's going to have today. This morning, I decided she was bringing an orange, change for a soda, a granola bar for a quick snack, Doritos and a sandwich.  I pretended that she agonized this morning over the bologna or the the tuna fish and decided to go with the tuna today.  It's Friday.  She should live a little on the wild side.

I also pass a couple of farms.  I count the chickens that are allowed to roam so close to such a busy highway.  I'm always surprised they're all still there.  I'm starting to think they might be lucky....that or their owners keep replacing the missing ones.

I pass two pastures of cows.  I like to use them as my daily weather vane.  If they're all standing, it's going to be a lovely day.  If they're all laying down, it's definitely going to rain.  It's only ever an 'anyone's guess' situation when one pasture is standing and the other is laying down...  You'd be surprised at how well cows predict the weather.

And I also take note of the changes.

Trees that are cut down and cleared.  How is it being done?  How long does it take them?  What are the going to do with the trees?  What are they going to do with the land?  I'm in the process of watching a section of Brundidge.  They cut the trees down and sold them to lumber companies.  They burned the stumps in huge fires.  A couple of months ago, they put up huge 'land for sale' signs.  Now I'm waiting to see who purchases it and what they do with it.

I've mentioned that I pass farms.  I watch them till the fields.  And then one day rows and rows of little greens poke up.  What are they going to turn out to be?!  I like to guess.  I got the corn.  One point for me!  I didn't figure out the cotton until they were covered in all the little white boles.  Now what I'm watching for is the day those cotton fields are all cut down and I see the trucks packed with the cotton traveling down the road and the bits of cotton that will litter the curbs.  I've always wondered why they don't stop to collect it all.  There always seems to be so much!  I bet someone patient enough to walk the roads at that time of year could get enough cotton to make a years worth of clothing.

Getting back to the alternate title of the post, three months ago, I noticed white stakes in the median.  They counted off in 5s from 000-10 to over 300.  For the longest time, I tried to figure out what possible measurement whoever put them there was using.  They're too close together by a long shot to be marking miles.  They're too far away to be marking feet.  But they are just about right to be marking yards.  My second burning question is why they were there at all.  Who put them there?  What are they marking?!?

And today, I figured it out!  They marked the beginning and ending points for the recent road construction!

Another point for me!  Woohoo!  I actually gave a small victory, 'Ah-ha!' when I figured it out this afternoon (:

So what does this mean?

It means that next week, I'll find some other new thing to pay attention to, keep track of, make stories up for, and wait for the next 'ah-ha' moment and earn the next point for me in a game where the points aren't actually tallied, and the only goal is keeping me entertained and awake while I make my commute.

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