As I passed under the overpass on my motorcycle I looked into the oncoming traffic and was uncertain what I was seeing. At first I thought it was some lawn care company moving equipment from one yard to another, but no.
The lead vehicle was a green riding lawn mower and a man drove it attentively through the traffic. He was wearing a ball cap and a colored T shirt. Close behind was a red wagon he was towing. And in the red wagon was a woman, riding along like she knew what she was doing. I was certain they were not simply riding it home from a very successful garage sale. Their belongings were piled up on mower and wagon as though on a long journey.
And where were they going? Of course, I could not know without asking or following. And I was headed the other direction. Is it rude to make a U turn, cruise up alongside a lawnmower/wagon couple and chat them up?
My only conclusion was that we get there in lots of different ways. If we can’t walk we ride a bike. If we can’t ride our scooter we drive a car. If the river stops and our canoe can’t go any farther we transfer to the train or bus. Or we hop on a riding lawn mower. It’s slower going, to be sure.
What circumstance led this couple to decide to travel in this way? Was this a way of life, something they have done for a long time? Or was this a one time remarkable exception to get to the new job or the funeral? Was it desperation? Or was it a very practical solution to a very concrete problem? Was this supreme innovation in the face of dire circumstance? Or was this some colossal dare with $100 riding on it?
Whatever the reasons I am peering back in time, back to a day when a young boy climbed onto the saddle of the riding lawn mower for the first time. Until then only his parents and older siblings were permitted to drive. But one day it was his turn and in a flurry of RPMs the green machine moved forward at his command. When he conspired with the neighbor girl to tie her wagon to the back for a ride it was high adventure and for that age even high romance. They beamed as they cruised the neighborhood and the other children stopped their games and watched them as they passed by, smiling and even waving. They made their own parade.
Somehow time passed as it always does and the children grew up and life happened and the big circle took them all the way back, back around to the old neighborhood. Whatever happened turned them toward one another with a look of amazement and remembrance: The mower and the wagon. Why not? What worked then could be the answer now.
I’m not certain how old this couple really was. They looked fifty to me. But I was in motion, passing the other way. Were they really ten? Or both? And when someone waved to them from the side of the road did they smile and wave back like so many years ago, king and queen of the road again, for even a moment?