the side of the road

I have mixed feelings about the side of the road.  When I was a kid, road tripping through remote areas of Mozambique, the side of the road was where the land mines were.  Sometimes there were signs – “Perigo Minas!”   Sometimes there were trenches and yellow tape marking areas where a de-mining operation was ongoing.  Sometimes there were no indications the area was mined.  You just had to know.  Hence there was no such thing as being discrete during potty breaks.  If you walked into the bush to conceal yourself for a private squat, you put yourself at risk.  If you were fortunate, maybe a tuft of grass grew right along the edge of the tarmac and you could at least create the illusion of concealment.  In these remote areas, the foliage was lush and thick.  No one dared disrupt it for fear of losing a limb or perhaps even their life.  Great conservation program.

This time of year in North America is marked by the resurgence of spring foliage.  Surprises you might find on the side of the road are a far cry from land mines.   Mariposa lilies.  Indian paintbrush.  Bush sunflower.  Bluebonnets.  Sand verbena.  Poppies. These wild flowers cling to highway medians and embankments.  In some areas, people park on the side of the road to pose among the flowers.  The most unpleasant surprise they will likely find is litter.  No loss of life or limb.  Today my daughters walked along the side of a dirt road by a field of blooming glories that spread to the horizon.  The ranunculus were exquisite.  I stepped off the road a few feet to get a better view through the lens of my camera.  Land mines were the furthest thing from my mind.

I have been back to Mozambique within the last couple years and did notice wildflowers.  Most likely there were wildflowers along the road when I was a child, but that’s not what I remember.  Though they are young, I hope my daughters always remember the flowers.

One response to “the side of the road”

  1. “Great conservation program”? I like your dark humor.

    Land mines were only on my mind once when I visited a World War 1 monument in Europe. There was a field that was fenced off because there were potentially live mines still buried there. But I wasn’t concerned…they were fenced in.

    I hope there will be a time in the future when the children of Mozambique remember flowers.

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