Today I drove out to Petaluma to pick up some stuff I’d left there during the weekend. I had my day all mapped out in my head: what errands I had to run, where I needed to go to do them, what time I should stop and get some work done, little projects I had to finish … such a superproductive day this was shaping up to be! The rain had come earlier in the morning and dim clouds lingered on the periphery as a distant threat, but for the most part the blue skies won out, peeking from behind giant billows of white. As I drove into Sonoma County the landscape began unrolling around me in towering verdant hills dotted with lush trees, and I saw a sign that said OLD REDWOOD HIGHWAY.
Driving is a guilty pleasure of mine in which, for lots of reasons, I shouldn’t and don’t indulge much lately. I’m not talking about the get-here-go-there driving; I’m referring to highway driving, road-tripping, relaxing and listening to tunes and watching the outdoors roll by. Aimless drives without worrying about traffic signals, pedestrians, bikes, directions. So I passed the four Petaluma exit signs and — inner dialogue by now a shouting match between You Shouldn’t and You Should — turned onto Old Redwood Highway and drove into the sunshine. Hills. Wind. Trees, flowers, river crashing through a gorge down below the road. The Old Redwood Highway can get twisty and hilly and close, through ridges and between winery after winery, the hills rippling out on both sides lined with grapevines.
I didn’t get a chance to take many pictures; holding a camera up to the window for a few seconds while driving yielded the predictable results. I didn’t try this method at all on some of the more winding parts of Old Redwood Highway, because I didn’t want to end up in a ditch at the bottom of a hill, all for a bunch of blurry photos. I don’t suppose the camera could have captured the overarching peacefulness of the place, anyway. There’s a preternatural calmness about vast rolling hills made for cultivation.
On other parts of the highway, the hills expanded a bit and not all were wineries; I saw a fair number of horses and cows and other crops. It occurred to me that aimless cruising on a sunny day gives me that sense of travel that I crave when I’m settled in one place. Maybe, even though I was unquestionably blowing off some obligations, this was good for my General Sense of Well-Being. Which is essential for quality work, anyway, right? I was feeding the muse, dammit.
One photo I, regrettably, didn’t get: the billboard I passed that said MEDICAL MARIJUANA CONSULTATION, with a local clinic’s phone number. It made me wonder what such a consultation would be like. …
DOCTOR: “Do you get headaches? Neck aches? Back aches? Any combination of those?”
DOCTOR: “Do you sometimes have trouble sleeping? Suffer from anxiety?”
PATIENT: “Why … yes. And yes.”
DOCTOR: “Do you find that you don’t eat enough Fritos, and are missing too many episodes of South Park?”
DOCTOR: “Here’s your prescription.”