We were walking the same path I used to tread over thirty years ago. I was still beside my sister, though now, we were also with her children. My husband and my twelve year-old son wandered up ahead.
When we were kids, just nine and seven, we’d follow this gravel driveway to the creek. Cross the empty country road, which hardly ever saw a car, and carefully skirt through a barbed wire fence to reach the banks of the low-level water. In the summer, green algae baked on sun-bleached rocks, and tadpoles wiggled in scarce pools within the shadows. We’d spend hours in the quiet, skipping stones and splashing in the rushes.
Today, much remains the same here, though I am decades older, and visiting this landscape with a new generation of family.
One change has been the road. What was once just an asphalt thread, way off the beaten path, has now become a thoroughfare to escape the city. Sports utility vehicles and careening motorcycles zoom along in search of country comfort and adventure. The road sees enough traffic now that the powers-that-be decided direction was needed. The guiding force of the double yellow line was etched along the pavement.
My dad writes about the days when the yellow paint was still fresh. How even the animals seemed puzzled by the new color in the terrain.
For me, the line is a symbol of irreversible change. A haven made vulnerable. A freedom tamed. Direction instituted, rather than intuited.
Though my son, Jeb, has only known this road for 12 short years, he still feels the poignancy of the double yellow line. At a critical crossroads in his own development, he can feel change.
So he gets down deep with the lens of his grandfather’s camera. There’s no traffic in this moment, and he’s low with the rough road, capturing the curve.