For the September 28, 2020 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour in Gualala, California, we free writers are asked to look to our bookshelf. What is the book that holds a dear spot in our hearts? Why is the book important to us?
The author of this travelogue, William Least Heat Moon, was fired from his university teaching position, bought a van, packed his dog, and set out on a one year odyssey to discover America. Often he would stop in a small town, find a temporary job, and interact with Americans he never knew.
The Blue Highways title is taken from the blue color on maps for the roads that are our country’s by-ways. The ones that are out of the way, not traveled by the impatient or obsessed with time and speed. A two lane country road like the Pacific Coast Highway in Mendocino County is such a road.
Escaping 150 miles north from San Francisco, Hannah and I find a winding coastal road to the house of our friends, Scott and Tree. Visiting them years ago, one early morning, Hannah and I walk along the PCH while a herd of cattle 100 yards away come to check us out. As we walk north along their pasture, the herd follows us as if we are Pied Pipers. The occasional truck or car passes us during their quote morning rush hour.
Blue highways slow me down, make me pause, encourage me to write, read all afternoon long, toast the sunset with a glass of wine, and get so far away that I wonder if I’m ever coming back.
I always do, but I’m refreshed, more self-reflective, and ironically more appreciative of our home in Maine.