I get lost on the road between St. Paul and LaCrosse, buried in the surroundings between here and there, captivated by the country outside my car.
Highway 61 passes quickly through the city and rolls through the hills above the Mississippi. At Red Wing it makes its turn to the valley and follows the river itself all the way to LaCrosse. Along the way small towns fill any wide spot between the bluffs and houses nestle along the river where they can. The hills are steep and penetrated by coulees cut into theirs sides by millenia of rain and the water that bubbles up through springs in the rock. Trees hang on their slopes with a singular determination.
Unlike the flat lands suitable for farming there is mystery here, the sense that something is hidden around the next bend in the road or a turn onto gravel would take one into a different place and time. There are towns hidden in the valleys with names like Zumbro Falls and Rollingstone and houses barely visible from the road. A wise person could live in natural silence just a few miles from town if they placed themselves well. Even as I drive by I notice and covet the possibilities.
I imagine myself sitting on a porch in a house set in a small valley, quiet in the morning and writing my thoughts. I think of music played with only the trees to listen. I ponder walking roads with neighbors true but few and far between. I hope for a place in the woods to pray.
Yet I know it wouldn’t exactly be that way. I’ve lived long enough to know there is always something. But even if only a part of it were true…
And that’s why my mind wanders on highway 61.