Seeing dead birds and old cars

You never know what you’re going to see on the road. I was driving east on Highway 20 toward Albany, Oregon Saturday when a black and white bird suddenly flew up about 20 feet then crashed onto the passing lane. Did it have a heart attack? Was it dropped by a hawk? Did it commit suicide? It went down hard and probably got run over before its heart stopped beating. Thank God I wasn’t in that lane. I thought about that poor bird all day.

Did I ever mention the toilet planter in front of a yard on 20? Brown pots with lush red geraniums perch on the seat and the tank. It would certainly be easy to find that house.

The other day, I found myself following our old car. When I got close enough to read the license plate, I knew it was that gold Honda Accord Fred and I bought in 2000. Seeing it brought back all kinds of memories. I remembered places we went in that car. I remembered washing it, rubbing that “Naples gold” paint in the sun. I can see the dog fur on the tan upholstery, the cloth butterfly hanging off the mirror, the scatter of cassette tapes on the passenger seat.

I introduced my new car to my old one, as if it were a living thing.

I have seen our previous car here, too, parked at the dentist’s office by the post office. When we moved to Oregon 14 years ago, we had a white Honda Accord, with blue upholstery. The right back bumper was popped out a little. Fred drove the big yellow rental truck while I followed him in the Honda with our old dog Sadie beside me and the back seat full of guitars, computers and my Chatty Cathy doll. She peed on the seat just before we landed in Lincoln City. It must have taken a year to get rid of the smell.

Maybe we should have kept those old cars; they’re still going. Each car brings back memories of different eras in our lives. I know they’re just cars, but I get attached. Way back when my parents traded in our green 1955 Buick Special for a Ford Fairlane, I cried. My family still teases me over that, but the back seat of that car was my second home. I can still feel the soft blanket I snuggled in back there between battles with my little brother.

The front seat of my silver Honda Element is my second home now. Inside is a jumble of CDs, yoga gear, books to sell and books to read, Kleenex, flashlights, an umbrella (I live in Oregon), chewing gum and granola bars, a guitar stand and random guitar picks, a dog blanket and a dog water bowl, and a red metal water bottle for me. Fill up the gas tank, turn the key and off I go into the world in the safety of my shell like a fast-moving turtle with tires.

I have been counting Honda Elements on my weekly drives to and from Albany. So far the record is 11. Some people think they’re ugly, but I love those big boxy things and I love all the wild oranges, greens, blues and reds they come in. The Element looks a little old-fashioned, and I like that too. Before we started buying Hondas, I drove VWs. Which probably says something about me.

Meanwhile, three of our cars are rolling around Lincoln County, Oregon. There’s an outdoor toilet with geraniums around Elk City and a smashed bird somewhere near Burnt Woods.

You never know what you’re going to see.

Author: Sue Fagalde Lick

writer/musician California native, Oregon resident Author of Freelancing for Newspapers, Shoes Full of Sand, Azorean Dreams, Stories Grandma Never Told, Childless by Marriage, and Up Beaver Creek. Most recently, I have published two poetry chapbooks, Gravel Road Ahead and The Widow at the Piano: Confessions of a Distracted Catholic. I have published hundreds of articles, plus essays, fiction and poetry. I'm also pretty good at singing and playing guitar and piano.

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