On the road through Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, painted on the tar I see first the word "TANK", then the word "CROSSING". Tank crossing. I look this way and that fearfully, but I see no long-gunned metal-clad beast bearing down on me.
I am reminded of the long and arrow-straight highway from Greenwood to Indianola in Mississippi. Painted on the tar there I saw this ... well, I can't show it to you, so you'll just have to imagine -- an outline of a small aircraft. Meaning, small aircraft might just use this highway as a runway, to land on. So watch it.
Now I am pretty sure I can watch for a tank OK, thanks much. But how am I supposed to realize, before the fact, that a small plane is about to land on my head? And what do I do if I do see one about to land: brake sharply? Speed up? Swerve to the side and stop? Wave to the pilot?
Anyway, the next time artwork on the road catches my eye is on Ocracoke Island (one of the so-called Outer Banks) in North Carolina this afternoon. On the other side of the road, thus upside down for me, I see first, "YOU!". Then "LOVE". Then "I". Then "JOYCE".
"Joyce I love you!"
I'm told Joyce is in a small plane, reading it as she comes in for an unscheduled landing on the Ocracoke road.
No, I made that up. But as I'm driving along, I begin noticing something else: tire tracks curving across the road. Made by vehicles making U-turns on the road. Just a long series of them, stretching over several miles.
I don't know if it is my frame of mind weeks into this trip, or if it is the austere loveliness of Ocracoke, or if it is the chilly but gorgeous day: but after a while, these curving tracks begin to take on a definite beauty. After a while, it's almost as if they are forlorn locks of hair, strewn across the road.
Joyce's hair, no doubt.