January 06, 2015

Crossing The Line

Few things baffle me – and now, as a father, terrify me – as highway accidents on the bald prairie on which I live and drive. Those ever-present two- or three-graph news reports of a driver who crosses the centre line and lays terrible waste to a life, or lives. No reason why, and never is one granted. I will save for another time those who careen, not braking, into the rolling thunder of mile-long freight trains.

A September weekend in 2013. We're leaving the city to visit the Cornell Creme operations as part of Open Farm Day. Navigating is one of my finest skills – I'll navigate circles around you and your GPS unit using the sheer power of my brain – but the directions to the farm are convoluted. The highway is ramrod-straight as we near our first turn, but it does not present itself among the hay fields and thickets.

A truck is approaching in the distance. I have time to look over at the map in Kerry's hands, pointing out the road we're traveling on. Peer up. The truck is two metres across the centre of the road. A nanosecond. Lock eyes with the driver. His eyes become saucers, and he corrects his course without a screech, a honk, any noise. No time to swallow my breath – and it's finished. I blink twice – and Kerry, head still in the folds of the map, asks me if we've passed highway number this-or-that. Scout, in her rear-facing bucket seat, bats at a dangling toy, sees the power lines swoop down and up, down and up and down. I say no. I say nothing at all.

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