Sometimes the dog and I go for a drive. We do this at night.
Of course, we drive in the day, but then it’s not simply driving but running an
errand, getting somewhere. When we drive at night there’s no destination. We
follow the truck’s nose. I know this is environmentally wrong. There’s the
carbon footprint. And it’s expensive. The old truck gets poor mileage. You
could say it was a waste. It’s not even sightseeing. We get on a highway. Not
the interstate. A two-laner through hills, past farms and forests. The
headlights light up cow’s eyes, mailboxes, darkened houses. The dog watches out
the windshield, just as I do, leaning into me on the curves. I play the radio.
The truck has AM only, so choices are few. In fact, stations come and go. You
turn the dial through static and hear ghosts from far away. But that’s what I
like about it. A friend told me that without sunlight the ionosphere reflects
rather than absorbs radio signals, bouncing them back to earth, and they
ricochet into the great distances of darkness. They ramble around, like me and
dog, turning up in all sorts of places. I’ve heard Spanish from Venezuela. Ball
games clear across the continent. Traffic reports from New York. I can hardly
make out the words. It’s oddly comforting. Driving with the night radio reminds me of traveling with my parents when I was a little kid, faces lit by the
dashboard, the sense that it was just us in all the world.