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Madison Monday

The back roads in the rain

By April 3, 2014No Comments

A friend and I are taking a master naturalist class at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge. It’s eight weeks of three and a half hour classes every Wednesday at the visitor’s center just up the road. Last night was mammal night, which is not nearly as exciting as geology or birds, but still worth the trip in the rain, we thought.

We got almost to the interstate on 256 only to discover that the road was closed and from there on out, things became interesting.

We tried an alternate path, and in the process, wandered into one of those parts of the world where all technology becomes useless. I have my doubts about whether even a compass would have been of any help.

I pulled up Google Maps and there were lots of thin lines of roads, criss-crossing the map. The ones going north seemed to stop at Hardy Lake. The ones going east disappeared before they ever reached the interstate. We were reduced to that whole 20th century phenomenon of picking a road and seeing where it got us. It didn’t turn out well.

buffaloI remember the moment when the worse thing that could possibly happen became not that we would be late. Not even that we’d have to turn back around and go home. The worse thing that could happen was that we would wander for the rest of our lives on Indiana roads that turned to gravel in the middle of flat, spring fields. The worse thing that could happen was that eventually, we would come to the end of the world, which come to think of it, would of course be in southern Indiana. We would stare down from the seats of the mini-van into the swirling void.

We made it home. Barely. We substituted beer and loaded fries for a lecture on mammals. We comforted ourselves with the fact that at least we saw a herd of buffalo, which are a kind of mammal, after all. What were a herd of buffalo doing on the back roads of southern Indiana? Well, why not? I wouldn’t really be surprised if there were dragons. Anything is possible.

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