I commute to work eight miles or so down a fairly lovely two lane road that passes under the Blue Ridge Parkway, so close over head that you could almost touch it, as it looks from a car. The roadside is being developed with more condos, small plazas, views of new office buildings. But to the west are intermittent views of the Blue Ridge as it heads off southeast. On clear days you can see Mt. Pisgah being nibbled by the Rat.
When you drive the same route every day, you can go on auto-pilot and listen to npr while your subconscious driver “George” watches out for lights, schoolbuses and tailgaters. You can glance at the views or ignore them. But there’s more nature to see at closer hand if you keep your eyes open. The other day I noticed three things on my commute.
At the Rock Hill Rd. intersection two large flocks of birds were lifting off from the overhead wires, swirling in their Escher-like ballet, one from the leftside, one from the right, each flock shifting, turning in Moebius twists and changing shades of grey, then resettling on another pole. All of this happened as I slowed down for the cars at the changing light.
On the long slope up to the Parkway, the parallel lines of electric wires were bejeweled with spider webs, ballooning and swaying in the air, made visible by droplets of fog on every strand of every web. As I drove I passed miles of spider webs above the commuters.
Coming down the slope I looked out past the clearing made for the new office building, the gap where you can look at the stores and traffic of the U.S. highway that parallels your road, or you can look beyond, to the Blue Ridge. This morning the Ridge was invisible, and a dark ribbon of a tree topped lower and nearer ridge was the only mountain view, lying atop a landscape of white fog that had settled over the French Broad River Valley.