I left the house early this morning to walk the loop, hoping that the temperature and humidity level would be bearable before the sun got too high, an assumption that proved to be mistaken, particularly after I slogged sweatily up the first steep hill and found myself walking along the ridge in broad sunlight with only rare spots of shade. It was hot and muggy and I thought about turning around, but then I kept telling myself I would just keep walking to the next shady spot, and then before you know it I was at the halfway point so why not go on? Besides, once I got down off the ridge, I could walk in shade along the creek.
But on my way down the hill on the other side, I saw a big white extended-cab pickup truck pulling a trailer loaded with some sort of digging equipment. The truck was marked with the logo of an oil-drilling company, which did not surprise me because the high price of oil has led drillers to invade our area, which is dotted with old oil and gas wells, some functioning and some derelict. So I wasn't surprised to see the truck drive past, but I was surprised when it stopped and began to back up. It can't be particularly easy to back up a truck and trailer on a twisty gravel road, so I admired their skill.
Then the truck stopped right next to me and a man leaned his head out the window. "You okay?" he asked.
I looked as if I'd just walked three miles in the heat of the sun, but "I'm fine," I said.
"Do you need a ride somewhere?"
"No, I'm just walking."
"Okay," he said. "But we never see anyone walking on this road. There's just nothing out here."
I wanted to tell them about all the different kinds of "nothing" I had encountered already: orioles, columbine, solomon's seal in bloom, false solomon's seal no longer in bloom, towhees, rabbits, butterflies, honeysuckle, fire pinks, new-mown hay, a big deer stomping and snorting and releasing its musky scent in the woods, an unidentifiable bird sitting atop a dead tree with the bright sun at its back and singing me up the hill, and more that I can't even remember.
But I didn't tell them that, just smiled and said thanks. There's a whole lot of nothing out there to see, but apparently it does not reveal itself to everyone.