Pondering the mysteries of life

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 19, 2002

I awoke at 5 a.m. several months ago in Tennessee to the rattle and bang and electronic beeping of the city garbage truck on its weekly round. Too early to get up, too late to go back to bed, I was left with only one option – pondering the great mysteries of life. Why did the garbage truck pick up in residential areas at the crack of dawn, and in the business district at peak driving time? Why can't a phone company call when they are coming to your house?

Why do they put "Dead End" signs at the end of the road?

There are many similar mysteries, many of which have been voiced in the past, like why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway? Why are there 10 hotdogs in a pack and only eight buns? Why do people say "head over heels" when their heads are always over their heels? One of my favorites, I borrow from the late author James Herriot, who wrote of life as a veterinarian in the Yorkshire Dales. I don't remember the wording exactly, but the essence of his observation was that, when asking for directions, if you are told "you can't miss it", you are sure to become hopelessly lost.

Learning the streets of Andalusia has been a lot like that. It is a delightful city, where longhorns graze across from the elementary school, and pockets of wilderness, veiled in kudzu, are pocketed between neighborhoods and businesses. Getting lost in Andalusia is not a problem – I have discovered that all roads do not lead to Rome, they lead to the Bypass.

Covington County, on the other hand, is a mystery I believe I will never completely uncover. The most innocuous side road turns into a winding, endless path and the houses on them are like Republican lawyers in the ACLU – rare to the point of nonexistence. But as I drive down those roads, tunneled by trees and shadows, I get the opportunity to meet new people and see new things. Beautiful ponds, elegant homes, people out riding their horses or mowing their lawns.

Of course, I'm still pondering those great mysteries as I drive, such as – Why, when we know exactly where we are going, do we never seem to notice the scenery on the way? Getting lost in the country is as refreshing and enlightening as getting lost in your thoughts. You never know just what you might find.

Mary Reeves is the editor for the Andalusia Star News.