Lately my travels have included a new and unusual term: tardy. Of course, recent excursions have also included a series of new concepts: impetuousness, spontaneity, and broadening (as in my horizons), even more than my past adventures. I have given up the luxuries of convenient motels and cozy beds and have experienced camping in its most basic form. Admittedly, the tent in my back seat should provide adequate shelter for this new phase of my travels, but due in large part to my tardiness (and impetuousness, and spontaneity), I arrive at my campsite after twilight and discover the scenes to be too dark to pop my tent without making a disaster of my campsite or a nuisance to my adjoining overnight neighbors. So by default, I have spent each night at my intended tent sites as the occupant of the folded-down seats of my SUV. Delano, my affectionate mode of transportation, offers a hard surface, but a half dozen blankets, an air mattress, and a couple feather pillows make even a stormy night an exceptional, restful experience.
On one occasion, I reminded myself that time was of the essence in reaching my campsite to allow for adequate assembly of my tent. Wavering between my driver’s-side window and my windshield, the sun swayed from front to side as the road twisted and curved and in the back of the car, the sack containing my tent begged at long last to gaze upward at the night sky. Yet as I rounded a bend on County Road 585, I saw ahead on my starboard side five tall, brown horses galloping intently over the next rise. Were they charging the length of the fence or towards the rails paralleling the road? The angle of the road masked their true direction. As soon as I topped the next hill, I saw the quintet stopped at the fence line, gazing longingly across the road to the corralled field on my right. There a single gray horse sauntered towards the neighboring rail as if to tease the five stallions and greet their anxious impatience on the opposite side. I wanted to pause for five or ten minutes to take photos, including a panoramic shot of the two contrasting scenes reminiscent of ladies’ night on the farm, but the clock was ticking, the tent was anxious, the campsite remained more than thirty miles away, and the sun was descending. The equine meat market remained a memory.
Pressing onward, a casual, yellow, hand-painted sign states simply, “Honey for Sale.” I used the last of my supply only days before and how convenient that I would receive a shopping-list reminder late on a Sunday evening. But at this hour, the vendor would have retreated for the night. To my absolute delight, the marketplace remains open, yet unattended. Making a u-turn, I double back to the wooden structure featuring a bevy of sweet selections. Buckets and bottles and bears offer a range of sizes and samplings. A box of free honey recipes adds a personal touch to the fare. A single metal tin – a leftover from a holiday cookie exchange of many years ago based on its wear – sits simply on a shelf, waiting to be opened by a random passerby. I try not to spill its contents and I discover nearly twenty dollars worth of previous purchases, and a notepad for a brief comment to the unknown merchant. I deposit my five spot, scribe a note of appreciation, sign my name and the date, and snag a bottle of Devil’s Tower Honey.
On small country roads, in the corners of Wyoming [or Maine, but that was a matter of firewood], a commodity sits safely curbside. I am equally delighted by the presence of honey in this vast openness on its own rustic shelves and by the confidence, trust, and sincerity of the vendor. On a swath of hilly road, a selection of merchandise, a small deposit of cash, and an offer for preparation tips of the treat greet a complete stranger like me. Trust abounds. Transactions occur. The wind blows in the otherwise silent store. A pound of Wyoming sweetness travels away from its home and in Delano’s possession. Of all my souvenirs from this outing, a simple jar of honey may be my favorite. My tent cringes as it realizes it will spend another night unassembled in its sack because the impetuous purchase of my sweet tooth, the spontaneity generated by a simple yellow sign, and my continued broadening of my horizon by taking the road less traveled all take precedence over the sun’s position in relationship to its own horizon. As I finish my exchange with the wooden box, a van also succumbs to the sweetness and sincerity of selection. We exchange salutations, and I know another jar of Devil’s Tower Honey will grace the table of a random traveler, and the pot of trust will grow.