In the spring on 1996 I was great with child. When I say great with child, I mean my belly was swollen like a watermelon, I was in a nasty grumpy mood and still had two weeks until the blessed event. The Mister, feeling responsible for my condition, suggested we go for a ride in the woods. The Mister thought then and still does now that some time spent in the woods is a cure for most anything, even a very pregnant, very grumpy wife. Pregnancy hormones overtook my common sense and before I knew it, I was straddled across the back of his 4-wheeler. The Mister, an accomplished outdoorsmen, situated a woman carrying his unborn child in the sacred spot reserved for his slain deer and off we went down Hunts Chapel Road that led to gravel and then to dirt. With one arm tightly around him and the other holding my belly, as if to protect, it we went off-road. I was scared and I suppose if The Mister had as much sense then as he does now, he would have been to. Instead he laughed and said ,”I’m not gonna let you get hurt Baby, enjoy the off-road.”
We rode and rode until I was drunk on the beauty of outdoors. My bad mood melted away with the wind that blew my hair and The Mister’s laughter. We finally stopped and soaked it all in. Just then, The Mister nudged me while giving me the “finger over pursed lips” quiet sign. He pointed into the grassy shrub and there stood a doe with her fawn. Like she knew the secret between the two of us, she looked me in the eye while her little one nursed from his mama. We stared at the beauty of it all and The Mister whispered, “I told you a little off-road ride would be worth it.”
This story does have a happy ending as I made it home with my baby intact, no worse for the wear. My bad mood was lifted and The Mister was the hero of the afternoon. Looking back, it was probably one of the most foolish things I have ever done.
But always I can remember The Mister whispering “I told you a little off-road ride would be worth it.” and now all these years later, sometimes I find my self off-road, far from the black top, in places that have huge ruts that threaten to turn me upside down. I struggle to protect what is mine and am oblivious to anything to me other than the constant bump of the dirt road.
But the off-road trail is where you find the spectacular treasures of a white oak tree so burdened down with acorns that you can almost hear the deer salivating over the bounty. The off-road is where you find mountain laurel so thick it blankets the edges of the road and fills us with the heady sweetness that cannot be bottled and sold. Off the edge of the off-road is where you find streams that are so clear the trout make small bubbles when they surface, flashing their rainbow-colored sides. Yes, the off-road is where God sends a mama doe to nurse her baby fawn right in front of your eyes to show a mama that all mamas are pretty much the same….
So when God whispers,”It’s time to take the off-road trail. It will be worth it.” He means it. “Let’s get off the paved highway where life is planned and expected, where we know the risks and benefits. Let’s leave behind easy and normal black top and let’s ride off-road.”
I whine about the risks, I point out that off-road is neither safe nor clean. I remind Him that the things He brings me to could hurt, or maybe even injure me. What then? He bends close and whispers, ” I won’t let you get hurt Baby, just enjoy the off-road”.