A year ago, I made mention in a post on our vacation in Colorado about something I enjoy with my wonderful husband known as “windshield time.” I thought I would elaborate a bit more on this time spent side by side watching the landscape ebb and flow…
As a child, I traveled a lot. By the time I joined the family, my father was 52, my mother 36 and most of my siblings long since out of the house. I was afforded the luxury of a father who had mellowed considerably and a mother who saw vacations as educational opportunities. I tell people I was homeschooled despite the fact that I went to public school. Show and Tell for me wasn’t My Little Ponies and Barbie dolls, it was iron pyrite and germinated wheat. So, I traveled with my parents on business and pleasure under the premise that I was gaining knowledge and insight into things others my age knew little about.
While I gleaned many things from this time spent traveling, I also learned to enjoy being in the car. I had pencils and crayons, books and toys and my parents nearly undivided attention. I told endless jokes from my joke book to my parents who dutifully chuckled and begrudgingly conceded to “one more”. (I now pay the price for this by having my own van full of joksters!) I asked questions and played games and listened to everything from Classical to Country as the miles ticked by. I watched the landscape rise into mountains and melt into prairies. I saw sand and surf become redwoods and vineyards. All of God’s creation flowed past me in an ever-changing canvas of epic proportions.
So, is it no wonder that I enjoy taking road trips with my family? I live for the tenuous moments when everyone in the car strains their eyes toward the horizon to be the first one to see that mirage-like distant outline and yell, “MOUNTAINS!!!”
I lay my head against the headrest and watch for new buds on the wintry scarecrow trees.
Later, I watch those same trees, with their lush green foliage, for signs of autumn’s paintbrush.
We search the fenceposts for hawks and the fields for livestock.
We imagine a cabin of our very own nestled amongst the most serene views.
From our vantage point, life seems simple.
It is because of this simplicity that the marital conversations of our road trips take on a different tone. Some of our deepest conversations have occurred as I lean across the arm rest to hold my husband’s free hand and stare at the right side of his head. There are no cell phones or computers, there is no next thing to do. It is just the two of us (give or take 5 children) and the windshield.
We are old friends who never run out of topics of conversation. Hour upon hour we move easily from theology to hunting to my latest writing project to music. We laugh, we cry, we sing, we laugh some more.
Sometimes I wonder what my children see from their seats behind us.
I remember seeing my parents holding hands and being awestruck. I remember going to sleep to them bickering over who got us lost and waking up to us asking for directions. I remember my dad wearing his beloved jumpsuit because it was the most comfortable thing to drive in. I remember rolling into the garage late at night and pretending to be asleep so one of my parents would scoop me up and carry me to bed. I remember laying on the floorboard and listening to the highway just inches below me.
Perhaps my children will remember listening to radio shows like Jonathan Park and Adventures in Odyssey. Maybe they will laugh someday about how no one had any room and how everyone coveted the bucket seat next to the baby. But what I really pray they remember with fondness is the picture of their parents, holding hands, smiling and laughing and loving their time together soakin’ up that windshield time.