Take a drive down a North Dakota highway, for a surprise ending.
Closing your eyes will help.
Let me transport you to a place of wonderment.
As you drive along Highway 2 in northern North Dakota, just a bit south from the farm I grew up on, traveling west, you have your windows rolled down. It’s late summer, and the early evening air is warm and sweet.
The breeze that fills your car carries the tangy scent of the bright yellow canola fields that stretch endlessly on either side of the highway. The fields of wheat, still green but perhaps just about to turn, undulate in the wind like the waves of a vast ocean. It’s so hypnotic that you hit the rumble strip on the side of the highway and edge onto the shoulder of the road for a brief moment.
The sound of your tires slap the pavement, patched areas changing the pitch of the highway hum. Off in the distance, you see a large swath of endless periwinkle blue. It seems to fade into the cerulean blue of the sky, the never-ending horizon melting into the blue-purples and orange-golds of a sun dropping lower. You wonder if it’s a huge lake. As you get closer, you realize it’s a flax field, the tiny blue flowers waving in the wind.
All around you, it seems like an ocean.
An ocean of wheat, of yellow, of blue, of clear sky.
Up ahead you see a small city situated on the highway. As you come closer, you realize it’s Rugby. There are some straight rows of evergreens, some modest houses and implement dealers. It looks like nearly any other town in North Dakota.
As you continue to drive, nearing where Highway 3 intersects with Highway 2, you notice a kind of rough obelisk, a pillar of sorts made out of rocks. Pulling into the parking lot near it, you take in the flags of Canada and Mexico, along with the U.S. flag, snapping in the breeze at the tops of their poles. At the top of the tall rock marker is a decorative golden ball. Around the marker is a raised platform that you can stand on as it towers above you.
Parking your car, you make your way to the platform. Attached to that heavy, earthbound mortared pile of rocks is a sign that reads: “Geographical Center of North America, Rugby, ND.”
There, standing in the near-middle of the entire continent and as far from any ocean shore as you can be, you finally understand.
You understand why it is natural that I don’t like seafood.
Wonderful prose. You painted such a beautiful picture with words!
And, then, the last sentence. So unexpected!
I like "Fisherman's Dream" quite a lot. Bull Rapids Road in east Allen County, Indiana is by no means an Enchanted Highway. But it does have a well-run scrap and parts yard called Garmater's, and someone did some scrap-metal sculpture there, too. The raw materials were so conveniently at hand! I don't think any of them were quite up to "Fisherman's Dream" standard, but they were pretty good -- very imaginative.
I once took them an old, rusty car with a fatal transmission problem, barely driveable, and scrapped it out with them for a few bucks. I had to admit to poor planning, having just filled the gas tank when the car became reluctant to move. The counter guy told me it wouldn't go to waste. He said that all petroleum-based automotive fluids were drained, mixed, and burned to heat their sizeable building throughout the winter. Being a thrifty (i.e., cheap) engineer, I admired this practice considerably.