Sunday, October 01, 2006

Adventures in vehicular travel.

To get to Cleveland from Gambier, one generally travels along OH-13 north for about 25 miles, then makes a left turn onto the entrance ramp for the northbound I-71. Yesterday at 3:15 p.m., as I flicked on my left turn signal and started braking for that turn to the interstate, the back left side of my car started making a dramatic clattering and rattling sound.

I may not have mentioned my car much to you before. It's a good, solid, old car: it turned 14 this year, and I've been driving it for 10 of its years of service (though only for 67000 of its 236000 miles). It does everything I could want a car to do, except air condition me in the summer, and I feel pretty much fine about that, given that I don't live in the south.

But I drive my car with the tiniest quiet worry that eventually it will just decide not to run anymore, since cars get tired after all these many miles. And I know the car pretty well, so I have an ear out for things going wrong when I'm driving it.

Which is why, when the rattling started, I thought, "Oh no!" And then, suddenly, "Oh, right." And so I said to my excellent friend, "I'm losing my left rear hubcap." And sure enough, just then, having rolled along the length of the left side of the car, it rolled out in front of us and, with perfect inanimate grace, carried itself straight into the median. "Do you want me to get out?" my friend asked, while I laughed and laughed both at the neatness of what had just happened and at my own relative unconcern about the loss. We were not in anything like a safe place to pull over or cross to the median, and so I said, "No, no, don't worry. It's fine. That hubcap's been getting ready to fall off for ages."

But what I was also formulating, even as I laughed us onto the northbound interstate, was a plan to retrieve the hubcap from its medianal sojourn on the way home today. And so noon today found me up to my knees in median weeds, hiking along in my boots and jeans until I found a hubcap--that wasn't mine! Leaving the Buick's hubcap behind, I proceeded until I found my own, sitting right where we'd seen it come to a stop yesterday afternoon. And within seconds, I having returned to the car with hubcap held triumphantly over my head, we were safely on our way, making jokes about reprimanding the hubcap: "That's what happens when you decide just to run away. You remember this!"

Meanwhile, the car was that extra bit easier to find during our stay in Cleveland, given that, among all its other distinguishing characteristics, it temporarily had its back wheel exposed. In fact, I felt as though this detail made it fit in more fully with the neighborhood that houses last night's concert venue, which was fairly divey but an excellent setting, so that the show was much smaller and much more crowded (sonically and personally) than the June show in Bloomington. Once again, though, I was all a-grin at the band's obvious dedication to their music and one another. The surprise of the night was finding out that Sally Ellyson is eight months pregnant (and lovely), which means that she was already well into her pregnancy when I met her in June. And one thing this means, dear readers, is that if you're inclined to see Hem play in the near future, you might want to do so relatively soon...

The other amusing thing that happened: just before Hem came on to play, the woman behind me tapped my shoulder and said, "Excuse me, but is your necklace a Superhero Designs piece?" Because it was, I replied in the affirmative. We Hem people must be running in the same online circles.

Because I was driving and someone else was in the car, I did not take pictures on this trip. Not taking pictures yesterday was no loss, but today dawned sunny and clear and autumnally beautiful. But even I have my limits. And what that means is that you have to extrapolate from yet another picture of Gambier leaves and imagine the golds and reds that are falling in all around us here in mid-Ohio. I'll proffer some more examples tomorrow; another walk to the cornfield across the highway might be in order, later on (though "later on" is having to become earlier and earlier, I've suddenly realized, as we start losing our light more and more swiftly, with this slip into October).


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