The Road

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Danielle Neibling

By Danielle Neibling

Special to the Crier

Our community shares much. But like marriages gone stale, we lose sight of common ground. The network of transportation in our vehicle-dependent culture is both the matrix and the Berlin Wall of our community in particular. I know just one individual, who does not drive, but walks everywhere he goes, waving hello, working his magic. The rest of us are zooming off to work, errands , and social events in distant parts of town or county. And another sector of us both drives, and perambulates-morning walks, with dog, with wife, with stick, on bike, collecting cans, and this is very special because we know these people.

Still, Oracle is a surprisingly large population in that many who pass along are unknowns, though they live just down our road. I feel it acutely, as not just a community disconnect, but a threat to life itself as vehicles of all makes and sizes bear down in their hurry to make it to somewhere by sometime, for our shared roads have many passages where there is no place to step aside, and many curves that potentially are dangerous, for example the long hill leading up Linda Vista Road, which I call Hector’s Hill, and the sharp curve which gives me chills to pass by whether I am driving, or riding horseback.

I had cause to ponder all this on Thursday, Feb. 7, a perfect weather day, and so agreed to meet up with a friend. My big gelding is still a youngster, and needs exposure to the world beyond his pen. So up the road we went, me humming Yankee-Doodle to ward off the nerves. It’s a fact that a horse can sense your tension in your seat, even through the saddle, but a horse reads a human’s emotions in a way that is hard for most of us to believe. I had to lie to Diallo to keep us in a steady direction, and safely to our side of the road.

Walking along not very fast, not very slow, cars passed us consistent and courteous. I wave and smile. A mail box snarled at us, a real-estate sign dangled and threatened hanging by one hook. Diallo stopped and snorted. A javalina crossed in front of us finishing his foraging route, one animal who has learned that the road can offer tenderized snacks. I don’t notice as many hit animals in the cool season, but soon twitter-pated behavior of cotton tails and squirrels will have us stomping on the brakes!

Climbing Hector’s Hill, a car rounded the corner and came towards us. I gripped the reins and saddle with my right hand and with my left beseeched the driver to slow down, which grudgingly, most drivers will do. Just for the record, drivers, if you see a rider, especially if she is solo, it would be neighborly to slow enough to see the whites of her eyes. But if you, kind driver, happen to be the head of a line of other vehicles, it is even more considerate, as horses are claustrophobic. Remember that we have no-where else to go, and are trapped there, where an accident is very likely.

We all choose to live in a small town. I’d like to meet you on the road, say hello, and tell you “Watch for the fawns that were browsing just around Cowlin’s Canyon!”

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