Driving home from Hilton Head today, I steered through steely clouds until sun peeked through, until steel gave way to blue. I wound through bits of towns: gas stations, roadside stands, cinder block houses, trailers, water towers. And then, dark gold winter marsh like a tarnished, tired crown, then opulent waterfront houses, three or four at a time, then stands of trees, scrub forest, the road bending out of sight.
There is an interstate I travel here in the Lowcounty, an east-west exchange. From certain glimpses, in the right early evening light, this stretch of road reminds me so much of an interstate in my native New Jersey, I am nearly transported back there.
I suppose it’s not shocking that one Southern interstate could mimic one so far North. Maybe it’s a bit of nostalgia. I imagine taking the exit that would eventually lead to my childhood home. I park the car in the driveway, walk up to the screen door to see my Dad sitting in his favorite chair inside, tapping his corn cob pipe empty of old ash.
Not that all of this makes sense. My Dad stopped smoking years before I could drive. The pipe and he both gone. The house no longer ours.
But the drive home with green leaves of trees half lit by early fall sun brings it all back.
I see the very first hint of color in a tree. I watch for the sky to move into its deeper blue. I wait for the heat’s reprieve.
These are the days worth gathering up by the armful. I stack them like good firewood in my mind.