Country Roads

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Country Roads

I woke up to rain falling from the sky … again. The day marked my one-month anniversary as a new resident of the Volunteer State, and from the window next to my bed it looked like it would be another wet one. I fell back on my pillows, exasperated. With an air of drama, I remember thinking, “Will I ever see the sun again?” It was the summer of 1997, my first summer in Tennessee, and it rained for over 30 days straight.

On the day the rain stopped, I ran outside of my Nashville home nestled in the heart of Green Hills, and like Maria in The Sound of Music, began to spin and sing in the front yard until I noticed a constant, low humming sound. I stood still for just a moment before suddenly being attacked by a large, red-eyed flying monster. As I jumped around like a mad woman, wildly shaking my hair, I remember thinking, “What in the name of entomology was that thing?” My first summer in Tennessee now included my first encounter with a cicada.

By this time, I was worried. I sat on my couch, holding my knees to my chest, rocking back and forth, wondering if I would survive the season. The rain, the Mr. Hyde dragonflies, what could possibly be next? But Tennessee had a few surprises up her sleeve. Somewhere in the middle of the raindrops and before the rising of the cicadas, I met a boy; not just any boy … but, the boy. I fell for a handsome Tennessee fellow and soon found that no amount of rainfall and no insect so scary can darken a Southern summer when you have love and a country road.

I happened upon the Jeep quite unintentionally. My roommate had agreed to keep the red Jeep Wrangler for a friend of hers while he was vacationing with his family. He left the keys and welcomed us to drive it around if we’d like. And, oh, did I like! On my first turn with the vehicle, taking advantage of a break in the rain, I threw on a pair of jean shorts, a plaid shirt and a ball cap. With Diamond Rio on the radio full blast, I drove to that Tennessee boy’s house.

I had been waiting to find out what he had planned for the day, and I admit I felt a little skeptical when he said, “I thought we could just ride around.” Hmm, that sounded a bit unplanned, much in contrast to my to-do list, check-it-off personality, but I was happy just to be with him. I would have been no less enthused had he had told me we were going to be hand-rolling gunpowder cartridges for a war re-enactment (an experience that presented itself a few weeks later).

We started in Williamson County where the road twists through the beautiful land of Leiper’s Fork. We picked out our favorite houses and invented the If I Had a Million Dollars game. Reba McEntire came on the radio singing a song called “I’d Rather Ride Around With You,” and both of us laughed because we thought that was so ironic. We browsed through an antique store and found out that we both have a love for old things. I bought a vintage camera on a whim. We stopped for coffee and admired the General Lee outside of Puckett’s Grocery. I will never forget that day and how it became the first of many day trips along the back roads of Tennessee.

Our driving adventures took us down the Natchez Trace, over Monteagle Mountain, through the Cumberland Plateau and into the Sequatchie Valley. We followed roads that led to Bell Buckle, Columbia and Fayetteville; then Fall Creek Falls and Chattanooga. We saw amazing places, met unforgettable people, and I fell in love with Tennessee.
As far as that handsome fellow goes, in the enduring words of Charlotte Bronte, “Reader, I married him.” Looking back on that first summer, the rain and the cicadas were side notes in a much bigger story. Seventeen years and many country roads later, we still enjoy playing the million dollar game – and you ought to see the lovely antique camera collection that sits on our mantel.

About the Author

Lori Boyd is a freelance writer and works part time as a registered nurse. She lives in Murfreesboro with her husband, Sam, and their three children. They have made many memories while driving along the country roads of Tennessee. They love rain, but cicadas … not so much.

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